Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays shut out A's

ST. PETERSBURG — One day after a players-only meeting, manager Joe Maddon decided to deliver his own message in a unique way Saturday afternoon.

Maddon invited a DJ to rock the clubhouse with music prior to the night game. Calling it "Day Rave One," Maddon hoped it would help the group play loose, act like a bunch of "cowboys" unafraid to make a mistake.

And Maddon loved how the Rays responded with such an aggressive effort in a 1-0 win over the Athletics in front of 25,6111 at Tropicana Field.

From right-hander Jeremy Hellickson's strike-throwing to defenders colliding while converging on fly balls, Maddon said the Rays (7-10) played with "borderline reckless abandon," setting the tone in their fourth shutout of the season.

"They were flying all over the place," Maddon said. "Fortune favors the bold, I totally believe in that. And we have to be bold in everything we do."

Hellickson attacked the red-hot A's lineup, which entered Saturday leading the majors in runs and extra-base hits. In picking up his first win in four starts, he struck out six, giving up just three hits, while not allowing an Oakland runner to reach second base in seven shutout innings.

Hellickson said the key was trusting his pitches and getting ahead.

"Jeremy was outstanding," Maddon said. "I just liked the aggressive nature."

Hellickson was helped by some more sparkling Rays defense. That included centerfielder Desmond Jennings becoming the first Tampa Bay outfielder to record an unassisted double play in the third. Third baseman Evan Longoria also raced into the bullpen to catch a foul ball, running into leftfielder Matt Joyce.

But the Rays offense, which broke loose for a season-high-matching eight runs in Friday's win, was held in check by A's right-hander Jarrod Parker, who had allowed a career-high eight runs in his last start. Other than Joyce's solo homer in the second, the Rays' bats were relatively quiet, including stranding the bases loaded in the fifth.

"Parker was due for a good game, and he threw it out there," Maddon said. "It wasn't like the approach was bad, or the at-bats were bad."

Joyce said he was expecting a 3-and-2 fastball from Parker, and when he got it, he ripped it just over the rightfield fence. His homer was his second of the season and first since his walkoff blast April 3 against Baltimore.

"He's going to get hot at some point here, but that's the kind of pop he's got," Maddon said. "His home runs have been pretty significant."

The Rays bullpen made the one-run lead stick, even though the ninth got a little interesting. With one out, second baseman Ryan Roberts dropped a popup to shallow center, bringing the tying run to the plate. But closer Fernando Rodney retired the next two hitters for his fourth consecutive scoreless outing, showing glimpses he's returning to the form that made him an All-Star in 2012.

Said Maddon: "That is more reminiscent of what we saw last year."

From both Rodney, and the Rays.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]m.

 
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