Hellickson, Rays snap Jays' 11-game win streak
Tropicana Field welcomed Wil Myers to town while Jeremy Hellickson received a warm homecoming.
Hellickson, the oft struggling starting pitcher at points this season, cooled off the high-flying Jays throwing seven shutout innings as Myers homered in his first at bat in front of the home fans to help lead Tampa Bay to a 4-1 victory on Monday night in front of an announced crowd of 11,407.
Tampa Bay's victory ended Toronto's 11-game winning streak and allowed the Rays (40-37) to move past the Blue Jays (38-37) into fourth place in the tightly contested American League East, which has all five teams sporting a winning record.
James Loney, Myers and Sam Fuld hit consecutive home runs in the bottom of the second to provide all the offense Hellickson needed, and Luke Scott added a run-scoring double in the third.
Fernando Rodney closed it out in the ninth for his 16th save, seventh in a row.
In his past two starts, Hellickson (6-3) has not allowed an earned run while allowing eight hits in 13 innings.
“I ran into trouble a few games ago, but I still felt like I was where I wanted to be,'' Hellickson said. “It's not fun to give up that big inning, especially when the guys are scoring runs for me, so it was definitely nice to limit the damage tonight.''
The only hit allowed Monday came in the second inning, a single by J.P. Arencibia that put runners on the corners with one out. But Hellickson induced Maicer Izturis to ground into a 3-6-3 double play to end the threat.
“That was a pretty big moment,'' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “To put that zero up and not give them that kind of an edge really was a big play in tonight's game.''
Hellickson retired 16 of the final 19 batters he faced and did not allow another runner to reach second base before departing after throwing 96 pitches through seven innings.
“Out of all the starts this year he might have pitched well, tonight was the game that could really right the ship for him,'' Maddon said.
Myers, meanwhile, appears to have his ship sailing on smooth waters, wasting no time to introduce himself to the home fans.
After falling behind 0-2 against Esmil Rogers, the rookie belted a 1-2 fastball over the center-field fence.
“It was really cool to have a good at-bat my fist at-bat here at the Trop,'' Myers said.
“Just got a good pitch to hit. I didn't try to do too much, just put a good swing on it.''
After returning to the dugout, the crowd gave Myers a standing ovation that lasted until he took a curtain call.
“I wasn't sure what really to do,'' Myers said. “I heard everybody cheering. I thought that might be my cue to go out there.''
Fuld then pulled a line drive into the right-field stands as the Rays went back-to-back-to-back at home for the first time in team history and just the second time overall.
“I was just trying to feed off the momentum,'' Fuld said. “By the time it got to me after Wil's home run, the place was going crazy. And it was pretty fun, it was cool. I didn't know what was going on, like there were strobe lights going on the catwalks.''
Reliever Alex Torres loaded the bases in the eighth inning with the tying run at bat and one out.
But Jose Bautista bounced to short for a fielder's choice that ended Torres' consecutive scoreless streak at 25 innings. Edwin Encarnacion then flew out to right to end the threat.