Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Hellickson has much to celebrate
ST. PETERSBURG -
Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson has retired the black game-day glove he used while earning the gold one that defines his status as the slickest fielding pitcher in the AL last season.
“Yeah, I took that one out of circulation,’’ Hellickson said. “I haven’t really done anything with it. It’s just kind of sitting there in my basement, waiting for the trophy to join it.’’
The wait is over.
Hellickson, who tied White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy in the balloting for the award, received his 2012 Gold Glove trophy prior to the start of Sunday’s game against the Indians.
Hellickson, who turns 26 today, became the youngest pitcher to win a Gold Glove since Bret Saberhagen, also 25, won it for the Royals in 1989, and the first to win it within three seasons of reaching the major leagues.
The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year also became only the second pitcher in history, joining Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers, to win both Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove in his career.
“I watched Greg Maddux (18 Gold Gloves) win all of them, so I’m really honored to win it,” Hellickson said. “It’s something I wasn’t expecting, but it’s an awesome award to win and a real cool-looking trophy.”
Tonight’s start against the Rangers marks the second time in as many years that Hellickson has started a game on his birthday. A year ago on this day, he threw 82/3 scoreless innings to beat the Yankees 3-0.
Masterful Masterson Rays manager Joe Maddon went into Sunday’s series finale feeling good about the matchup between his hitters and Cleveland starter Justin Masterson. And rightfully so.
In 13 previous games (nine starts), the Rays had hit for a combined .313 batting average against Masterson, leaving the right-hander with a 1-7 career record and 7.74 ERA against Tampa Bay.
Masterson was masterful in this one, though, allowing just two singles to the hot-hitting Ben Zobrist and walking three while striking out eight during the Rays’ 13-0 loss.
“He worked ahead and when we’ve hit him well he’s gotten behind in the count,’’ Zobrist said. “He did a great job of throwing strikes and a guy like him with that movement he has, if he’s throwing strikes he’s going to be good.’’
The Rays loaded the bases against Masterson in the first inning, but he struck out Yunel Escobar to end that threat and then proceeded to retire 17 of the next 18 batters, including the final 13 he faced.
“I really want to attribute how badly we looked to their pitcher,’’ Maddon said. “It’s not like our guys were awful. I just think their guy was pretty good today. We normally hit him well. Today he just seemed to have our number.’’
Closing time Closer Fernando Rodney hasn’t looked sharp in the early going, allowing four hits and three runs (all earned) in 12/3 innings, including two runs (both earned) in two-thirds of an inning Sunday.
Maddon, though, said he’s not concerned about his closer’s stuff, admitting that he probably set Rodney up for a rough outing Sunday by using him in a non-save situation.
“You’re normally (going to get) a poor performance by a closer in this kind of a game,” Maddon said. “The adrenaline is just not there and everything about it is just awkward for that kind of pitcher. That’s why, whenever you bring a guy like that, a closer, into a game like this, a closer, you hate to do it. But he needed the work. He needed to go out and throw the baseball.’’
Intentional talk Indians RHP Cody Allen created a bit of a stir Saturday when he started the seventh inning by hitting 3B Evan Longoria in the buttocks with a pitch.
Allen insisted Sunday there was no intent on his part to hit Longoria.
“I was trying to go hard in on him so he couldn’t get extended,’’ Allen said. “The pitch just got away from me.’’
Noteworthy The Rays have not committed an error this season and remain one of only four teams (Detroit, Kansas City and Boston are the others) not to have an error. The six-game errorless streak is the longest in team history to start a season. … Indians DH Mark Reynolds is hitting just 4-for-24 (.167) lifetime against LHP David Price, but three of his four hits are home runs. … The Rays are 0-for-9 with the bases loaded this season. … The last time the Rays lost by 13 runs or more was July 22, 2007, at New York (21-4).