The Rays bullpen has been the least used out of all of baseball's 30 teams, and it's because of pitching performances like this. Simply put, Jeremy Hellickson owned the night. He was magnificent in pitching his first career complete game shutout.
How magnificent? He threw just 120 pitches, with his high in an inning being only 19. While he only recorded three strikeouts, it wasn't from lack of stuff. The Orioles swung and missed 19 times total, with 15 coming on his changeup. As Jason Collette pointed out to me, in Hellickson's last start against the Orioles he threw the pitch 29 times and generated 7 whiffs. Needless to say, it's not a pitch Baltimore has much success with.
Remember the ugly strikezone plot we showed you in Wade Davis' last start, where he missed all over the zone? Hellickson's looks like a piece of art in comparison. Note the number of orange dots down in the zone. Beautiful.
The complete game lowered Hellickson's ERA to 2.98, making David Price's 3.12 ERA the highest of the four regular starters. Not too bad. This is Hellickson's night, so I'm not going to focus too much on the offense. Matt Joyce was the driving force once again, blasting a two run homer in the 2nd, his fifth, to give the Rays the only lead they would need. This may be the most fun I've ever had watching a Rays hitter.
Since Collette attended tonight's game, he got some post game audio clips for us. Joe Maddon's is the best, as he gives some nice insight into Hellickson's night, his approach, and how pitching in general has evolved over the last few years. Matt Joyce and Hellickson himself are the other two clips.