THE GOOD: Jeremy Hellickson. Hellboy tossed his first career shutout, a 4-hitter with 3 Ks and 1 walk. In fact it was the first time Hellickson had ever worked past the 7th inning. He used his 4-seamer a little more than usual and it had less movement than usual. This may have given Hellickson a bit more confidence to locate it, but it was the changeup that was dominating. Normally he gets the batter to swing-and-miss about once every 5 changeups. Last night it was once every 3…Matty Joyce. Sweet Swingin’ continues to swing sweetly. Last night it was a 2-run home run in the 2nd inning. That was all Hellickson would need.
THE BAD: Sam Fuld. We like Fuld and we don’t mind him in the lineup, but his hot streak has run its course and he probably should no longer be leading off. The best spot for him right now is 9th where he can be used as the “second leadoff.”
THE TELLING: The Rays now have a 2 game lead in the AL East and have the 2nd best record in the AL…Jeremy Hellickson had 117 pitches before facing the final batter and yet Joe Maddon left Hellickson in to finish the game and throw 120 pitches total…JP Howell is expected back with the Rays on Thursday. When he returns, he will be wearing a new number (74).
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Sun Sports will air “Inside the Rays: Joe Maddon,” on Sunday immediately following the game. It will be a look at a day in the life of the Rays manager. [Sun Sports]
- Sam Fuld shouldn’t be hitting leadoff, but he does deserve to be in the lineup for his glove alone. According to BIS, he has already saved the Rays 9 runs on defense. That is tied for the best among all outfielders. Carl Crawford averaged 17 runs saved over last 3 years. [ESPN]
- Here is a good look at strikeout and walk rates among the Rays hitting prospects. [Rays Prospects]
- Hey look! The New York Times wrote about the Rays and how this might be a 3-team race again. [New York Times]
- How are those former Rays relievers doing? [MLBTR]
- The Houston Chronicle wonders if the new owner of the Astros will try to bring Gerry Hunsicker back as GM. [Chron.com]
- Here is a look at how the fight over draft pick bonuses could lead to big spending this year by some teams. [Yahoo! Sports]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
- DURHAM 9, Syracuse 2: Brian Baker gave up 2 runs in 6 innings…LF Leslie Anderson had 2 of the Bulls’ 17 hits. Both were home runs, his first of the season…CF Desmond Jennings had 2 hits including his 5th home run of the year…3B Russ Canzler went 4-4 with a walk and is now hitting .306…DH Jose Lobaton went 2-5 to raise his average to .352.
- MONTGOMERY 5, Chattanooga 3: Shane Dyer lowered his ERA to 3.13 after holding Chattanooga to 1 run in 6 innings on 7 hits and no walks…C Stephen Vogt hit a pair of home runs, and went 4-4. He is now hitting .318 with 6 home runs…SS Tim Beckham was 2-4 with a triple to raise his average to .308.
- Brevard County 8, CHARLOTTE 7: Merrill Kelly gave up 3 runs in 5.1 innings. He struck out 4 and walked 2…SS Hak Ju Lee had a pair of singles and a walk to raise his average to .396. He did commit 2 errors (his 8th and 9th) and was caught stealing for the 5th time in 12 attempts…2B Tyler Bortnick had 2 singles and 2 walks. He is now hitting .325 with 20 walks and just 13 Ks.
- BOWLING GREEN: (no game scheduled)