June 30, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) reacts after he got hit by a pitch from Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder (28) (not pictured) in the third inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
And just like that, the early season's winnings are squandered. The Rays had built themselves a cushion. They only needed to play "good" baseball for the rest of the season, and the Red Sox needed to play great baseball to catch them. But now, the Rays are in fourth place, and even if Seattle can hang on to their two run lead against the Red Sox and put us back into a tie for third, it won't change the fact that for a few hours, we were behind Boston. The cushion is gone.
That's the bad news. The good news is that Jeremy Hellickson seems to have more cushion in his shin than Jeff Niemann does. In the third inning, Hellickson got the first out and then gave up three singles in a row to load the bases for the powerful Prince Fielder. Fielder, lined a 1-1 fastball off of Hellickson's right shin. It was hit hard enough that it ricocheted sharply to Pena at first, giving him enough time to think about throwing to second before carrying it to first for the out himself. A run scored, but the only real concern was for Hellickson. After a lengthy session on the field with the Rays' training staff, Helly was pulled and sent to the hospital for X-Rays, which were negative. He did not raise the team BROBL/9 tonight, and that's something we can all be thankful for.
J.P. Howell came on to replace Hellickson, and got the next out. Altogether, a combination of Howell, Davis, and the newly returned Kyle Farnsworth would hold the Tigers scoreless through the seventh inning., but the Rays offense could never break through. In the top of the eigth inning, Joel Peralta gave up a two out Austin Jackson three run homer, rendering meaningless the Keppinger and Pena solo home runs that would come in the bottom half of the inning.
- Badenhop pitched a horrible ninth inning, that in the context of the game isn't even worth talking about. He was wild, walking three batters and giving up a single. His inning could have been much worse had Pena not started a terrific 3-2-3 double play with the bases loaded.
- As I said, Farnsworth was back, and it was good to see him. He pitched comfortably in the 91-93 mph range, and could find 95 mph when he wanted it. With Peralta shaky, Farnsworth becomes a crucial addition.
- This offense really needs Longoria and Joyce back. Porcello is not a great pitcher, and they were largely impotent tonight. 3.08 runs per game is not going to do it.
- As I'm writing this, the Red Sox just tied up their game on on a passed ball.