For the third night in a row the Rays played an exciting, yet strange, one run game at the Trop. Only this time they came out on the winning end.
After being fairly quiet for the first six innings -- the only run came in the 5th on a Reid Brignac single -- things got going in the 7th. After a B.J. Upton strikeout to lead things off Robinson Chirinos reached on an infield single to deep short. Sean Rodriguez followed that with a single of his own to centerfield, chasing Colon from the game. Justin Ruggiano pinch hit for Sam Fuld against the lefty Boone Logan and looked to of hit an easy pop out to medium-center. Curtis Granderson had trouble picking the ball up and lost it in the lights, allowing the ball to fall for a single, loading the bases.
Elliott Johnson, pinch hitting for Reid Brignac, slapped a high ground ball back to the mound. It could have been an inning ending double play, but instead the ball glanced off of Logan's glove allowing Chirinos to score to tie the game. With the bases still loaded Johnny Damon hit a shallow fly to center, forcing Granderson slide to make the catch. Rodriguez very alertly tagged up while Granderson was still on his behind and scored the game winning run.
All in all a very bizarre inning, but one the Rays needed. Too many things had not gone the Rays way the last two games, so it was refreshing to see them on the other end of things.
As for the pitching, Jeremy Hellickson rebounded from a tough first few frames to go seven innings and pick up the victory. He labored through the first two innings, throwing 50 pitches. He'd need just 48 to get through the next five and would finish with 119 pitches, 13 of which went for swinging strikes. He was excellent against the Yankees' right handed bats, not allowing a hit to Jeter, Martin, or Nunez. His only blemish was a two run homer to Cano. Other than that he did a fine job of keeping the Yankees left handed bats honest by controlling the inside of the plate. The biggest thing to me was the fact that Hellickson only allowed one walk. For a lot of the season he's had control issues (four times this season he's allowed four or more free passes) but this was the third start in a row in which he's allowed one walk. Control was always his specialty in the minor leagues, if he can keep that going he's going to be hard to beat going forward.
- Jake McGee was impressive protecting the lead in the 8th inning. He got Granderson to strikeout rather easily, and after a Teixeira single forced Robinson Cano to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Joe Maddon said if McGee did not get that double play he'd have gone to Peralta to face Swisher since they didn't want him hitting from the right side. More innings like that, please, Jake.
- It was nice to see Maddon reference the "process" so much in the post game presser. He's right, the Rays played virtually the same game the past three nights, but only came out with the win tonight when the breaks fell their way.