Today's performance is the type of start on the mound that Jeremy Hellickson demands of himself: minimal runs, and a win for the team.
Its been a rough start for the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner, as he seemed to blow leads after his offense gave him a nice cushion to work with, leaving the bullpen to bail him out. Hellickson himself all but implied that he was extremely disappointed — borderline disgusted — with his sub par outings.
What was on display [from Hellickson] today was anything but average: it was vintage 2011 Hellickson. The only blemish on his fine outing was a solo homer that came off the bat of Miguel Cabrera (4th inning), which isn't all that bad when you consider that he's only the best all-around hitter in the game.
Apart from the solo homer, Hellickson's outing is something he should definitely be able to build on: 6 innings pitched, 1 earned run, 6 hits allowed, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Keep in mind that this team is arguably one of the best all-around hitting teams in the league, so Hellickson's stat line from today's game is more impressive than it appears.
Offensively, the Rays got the crucial two runs necessary for the win from an "unsung hero", Jose Lobaton.
Calling Lobaton a "utility catcher" may not seem like the best title to give, but when the Rays signed Jose Molina in the 2012 offseason, that's essentially what he became. Still, in his limited at-bats this season, he's hitting a very respectable .273. Today's game also helped, as he was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, driving in a run in the 2nd and 4th inning(s).
Fernando Rodney came in in the 9th for a save situation, and gave the home town fans a scare when he allowed a hit after striking out the first batter. With the tying run at the plate and yet another chance at blowing a save, Rodney kept cool and struck out the final batter for his 17th save of the season.
The Rays now move to 43-39 on the season, 3 games behind the red hot Orioles, and 6 games behind the Red Sox.
Notable Stats from Today's Game:
J. Hellickson: (7-3, W) 6 IP, 6 H, ER, 3 BB, 6 SO
J. Lobaton: 3-3, 2 RBI