In his last two outings, Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson struggled to the point that the team gave him extra time off for rest. However, his return on Wednesday night made it seem as if there were no issues at all.
Hellickson lead the Rays to a 3-1 victory on the heels of an impressive, yet short, pitching performance. The 26-year-old only managed to navigate his way through 5.1 innings, but in doing so, he allowed just 4 hits and 0 runs while striking out 4 members of the Angels. This was an incredibly encouraging outing for Hellickson, as even with the win, his ERA sits at 5.04 on the year.
Offensively, Tampa Bay was paced by 2 home runs from wunderkind Wil Myers. Myers has been absolutely electric this season, posting a .291/.352/.480 slash line with 11 home runs, but this may have been the best game of his young career. He took Angels ace Jered Weaver over the wall on both occasions, and in doing so, made every single fan of the Kansas City Royals (who traded him for James Shields) cringe in agony.
In addition to the work of Hellickson and Myers, the Rays can be encouraged by the performance of closer Fernando Rodney. It hasn’t been a storybook campaign for Rodney as it was in 2012, but he struck out 2 and looked utterly dominant in putting LA away in the 9th.
With the win, the Rays now lead the Yankees by 2.5 games in the AL Wild Card standings with 24 games to play. Tampa Bay would like to challenge Boston for the AL East crown, but with a 5.5-game deficit, much of their focus should be on holding off the surging Yankees in the Wild Card hunt.
In order to do anything in the playoffs, the Rays are going to need all hands on deck, and it looks like that is coming together with Jeremy Hellickson and Wil Myers.