Welcome back, Jeremy Hellickson. Welcome back, Wil Myers.
Backed by a two home run game from Wil Myers, Jeremy Hellickson pitched well in his first start back from a forced break, working into the sixth inning while allowing no runs.
It didn't take the Rays long to squander an early scoring opportunity. In the top of the first inning, David DeJesus led the game off with a single. After Ben Zobrist struck out, DeJesus stole second base with Longoria at the plate. The Rays managed a rare base hit with a runner in scoring position as Longoria singled to center field. However, DeJesus only advanced to third base and was held, a frustrating move in hindsight as the throw home ricocheted off of the mound. Matt Joyce popped out to second base and James Loney struck out looking on three pitches as both runners were stranded on the basepaths.
The Rays were the first to score though, tallying a run on Wil Myer's solo shot to center field in the second inning.
Though Hellickson pitched well, the Angels threatened several times in the middle innings. Following a perfect inning in the first, Hellickson ran into trouble in the bottom of the second. When the first two batters reached on a walk and a single, it looked like a promising start to the game was a sign of false hope. But Hellickson settled down to retire the next three batters and end the threat, a feat he has seemingly been unable to do all year. Once again, Hellickson showed his 2011-2012 skill of leaving men on base in the third inning. Grant Green and J.B. Shuck went down quietly to give the Rays two outs with no runners on. However, Rays-killer Erick Aybar blooped a single and Mike Trout drew a walk. Josh Hamilton worked a deep count, but he struck out wildly on ball four, ending the threat.
Even though Hellickson had pitched five scoreless and rather effective innings and only thrown 66 pitches, Joe Maddon had the bullpen working early, a clear sign that Hellickson was on a short leash. When he allowed a double to Mike Trout with one out in the sixth, Maddon quickly went to his bullpen, much to Hellickson's disgust.
Hellickson's line for the night: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 71 pitches, 46 strikes.
Maddon turned the game over to Alex Torres, who once again escaped a jam unscathed. He induced a weak groundball from Josh Hamilton and jumped ahead of Kole Calhoun 0-2. Trying to throw a change-up inside, Torres lost his grip as the ball slipped from his hand and drilled Calhoun in the ribs, putting a second runner on base. Mark Trumbo failed to capitalize on the gift by softly grounding out to Ben Zobrist.
In the top of the 7th, the Rays extended their lead. Loney started the inning with a groundout, but Jennings worked a walk and stole second base. Jered Weaver left a breaking ball middle-in to Wil Myers, who deposited the ball into the left field bullpen for his second home run of the day.
With the Rays holding a 3-0 lead, they turned to their top relievers to close out the game. Jake McGee pitched a shaky 7th inning, allowing a solo shot and a single but nothing else. Toeing the rubber in the 8th was Joel Peralta. After issuing a customary Peralta walk (why are the these so frequent these days?), he retired the next three batters in order to turn the game over to Fernando Rodney. Unlike the last time I was scheduled to write a late-night recap, Rodney closed out the game to give the Rays the victory.