ST. PETERSBURG - Desmond Jennings drew a four-pitch walk to start the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday and Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon thought maybe his team was about to put together a good inning against R.A. Dickey. Actually, Maddon dragged out the word "maybe," saying "maaybeeee" as in it would be nice but he wasn't about to hold his breath. And for good reason. Dickey was out of the inning in nine pitches. Just another quick inning in what was a quick afternoon at Tropicana Field. Dickey pitched the Toronto Blue Jays to a 3-0 victory in front of a camp day matinee crowd of 21,502. The game took 2 hours, 10 minutes to play. The Rays have endured longer rain delays this season.
It was the shortest Rays game since a 1 hour, 53-minute affair against the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 9, 2011. That was the quickest game in team history. Dickey used just 93 pitches, mostly knuckleballs. He allowed two hits and walked one. "He's got that awkward pitch and when that sucker's on it's an entirely different event at the plate," Maddon said. The only Ray to reach second base was Jennings, who stole second with two outs in the seventh. "Obviously, everybody knows what's coming, and you just never know what it's going to do," Matt Joyce said. "You're swinging, and you might as well be swinging with your eyes closed, because you're swinging and praying that it's going to break into the bat, and obviously, it didn't break where we were swinging too much." The game would have been reminiscent of the complete-game Dickey threw against the Rays on June 13, 2012 while with the New York Mets. Dickey held the Rays to a one hit in that 9-1 victory, and the Mets tried to have the scoring change overruled so Dickey would have a no-hitter. The reason Wednesday's performance was not quiet a repeat of that game was because the Rays actually felt Dickey was sharper this time around. "We didn't hit, I don't think, one ball hard," Maddon said. "Even our fly balls were not hit hard. He was on top of his game, and he was good." Could his team have tried anything different at the plate to disrupt Dickey? "If they had been able to take up a tennis racket they might have better results," Maddon said. Swing with their eyes closed. Use a tennis racquet. The Rays could make jokes afterwards, because they had the consolation of winning the series and because, well, sometimes there's nothing you can do against an opposing pitcher but, as Maddon said, "the old proverbial tip of the cap to him." Roberto Hernandez gave the Rays a performance they will take 10 out of 10 times - eight inning, three runs. Problem was Hernandez picked the wrong day to turn in the best outing of his season. Dickey retired the first 13 Rays he faced before allowing a ground ball single by James Loney through the left side of the infield. Yunel Escobar singled with one out in the sixth inning but was erased on a double play. Add the walk to Jennings and Dickey pitched to just two batters above the minimum. [email protected] (813) 259-7227 Twitter: @RMooneyTBO