Rays 11, Tribe 3: Offense carries Rays to series victory over Indians

Jason Miller

After two strange games in Cleveland, things get a little back to normal.

Lazy Sundays are great. After a long work week it is nice to kick back, relax, and recharge the batteries. The problems of the previous week fades away and for just a moment, life gets back to normalcy. For the Tampa Bay Rays, they have had anything but your typical work week. A four-game home-and-home, numerous new arms coming back and forth from Durham, star-burst batting practice caps and one of the lengthiest rain delays in MLB history. But Sunday, life got a little bit back to normal as a rested Rays club slugged their way past the Cleveland Indians 11-3, securing a series victory before a much needed off day.

The usual cast of characters got the Rays going early. Matt Joyce singled in the first to end the no-hit-threat and Kelly Johnson followed the hit with a walk. After an Evan Longoria ground out moved over the runners, James Loney continues to hit with power, and hammered a splitter, plating two first-inning runs with a long drive to center field that deflected off a sprinting Michael Bourne's glove. The offense would tack on consistently throughout the afternoon never allowing the Indians a chance to get back in the game, as Longoria added an RBI single in the third inning and Jose Lobaton knocked in Sam Fuld in the fourth inning.

With a four run lead in the fourth inning, Jeremy Hellickson got himself into some trouble. With two outs, Hellickson surrendered four straight hits to the middle of the Indians lineup, tightening the lead to just one run at 4-3. The Rays would answer quickly, however. In the top of the fifth inning, Kelly Johnson singled, moved to second on a ground out and then attempted a steal of third base while Loney was at bat. The Indians catcher, Jan Gomes airmailed his throw into left field allowing Johnson to trot home and extend the lead to two. The Indians would not threaten again while the Rays added two more in sixth and four more in the eighth, powered by two run home runs from Yunel Escobar and Longoria (who snapped a 19-game homerless streak).

Maddon elected to go to his bullpen in the bottom of the sixth, pulling Hellickson after just five innings pitched and only 82 pitches. Hellickson struck out four of the first eight batters he faced and has just one bad frame but he never looked totally in command, allowing nine hits over his five innings of work. The pen responded by allowing just two hits the rest of the way and shutting out the Indians as the Rays offense piled on. Kyle Farnsworth worked a scoreless sixth inning and then Maddon went to his 'A' bullpen for the seventh, eighth and ninth as Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney closed out the final frames.

Some notes:

  • The Rays bullpen, once a much maligned unit, allowed zero earned runs over 16 innings during the Indians series and appears to be rounding into shape.
  • Sam Fuld tripled in the fourth inning on a ball down the right field line that bounced off the girthy leg of a lumbering Indians bat boy. Indians manager Terry Francona argued that the play should have been a ground rule double and he had a solid case, however umpires did not overturn the play and Fuld would score as the next batter, Lobaton, singled to center.
  • Terry Francona got into it again with umpires in the fifth inning after Hellickson earned a questionable strike call to Nick Swisher. Francona was ejected by homeplate umpire Bill Welke but not before coming out of the dugout and getting his monies worth.
  • Every member of the Rays lineup reached base except DH Luke Scott who finished 0-4.
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