Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays rout White Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' swarming lineup was at it again Friday night, every starter getting a hit in an 8-3 drubbing of the last-place White Sox.

"With this offense," Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson said, "you never get down."

But as impressive as the Rays' bats have been — 36 runs over the past five games — manager Joe Maddon said the only way the Rays are going to move up in the American League East is if their starting pitching sets the tone.

And after another strong outing by Hellickson, in front of 15,825 at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay's rotation is starting to return to its sparkling standard. Ace David Price is back. Tonight's starter, Matt Moore, has won three straight, and Roberto Hernandez and Chris Archer have made encouraging strides.

It's no coincidence that during a stretch in which the Rays have won nine of 12, they have given up a combined 28 runs. The starters have lasted at least six innings in 14 of their past 16 games, which Maddon says is a "greater formula for success."

"We've been much more consistent offensively and defensively," he said. "If we can get the pitching tied in like we can, it could be a very, very fun second half."

Hellickson (8-3) has rebounded from early struggles to win four straight starts, allowing a combined four earned runs.

He said he is pitching with more confidence in his fastball, and that is showing in how he attacks hitters. Friday, Hellickson matched his season high with nine strikeouts over seven innings.

"I think (Friday) was a good example of what I've been doing the last couple games, getting that big out when I need to," he said.

The Rays (47-40) gave him more than enough run support in a five-run second inning, in which they batted around and chased Dylan Axelrod. The big blows were back-to-back homers by Jose Molina (a two-run shot) and Kelly Johnson, and Desmond Jennings and Luke Scott picked up the first of their three hits each.

Maddon said a big part of the recent offensive success has been a disciplined, determined approach, accepting walks and not chasing bad pitches.

"We are just not expanding our strike zone," Maddon said.

Jennings continues to be the catalyst from the leadoff spot, with back-to-back three-hit games for the first time in his career. And he has been successful on his past six stolen base attempts, including twice Friday.

"He's starting to look like he's supposed to," Maddon said.

Evan Longoria played third base for the first time in a week, and first baseman James Loney extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games with two hits.

"It's a fun thing," Loney said.

Rookie rightfielder Wil Myers had a sacrifice fly and a RBI double as the Rays kept piling on. And Hellickson settled in, retiring the final six hitters he faced. Hellickson's recent roll, 6-1 with a 3.16 ERA over his past seven starts, has helped make the rotation whole.

"Matt (Moore) and (Alex Cobb) have been doing it the whole year," Hellickson said. "It was just a matter of myself picking it up and giving us some quality starts."

Rays rout White Sox 07/05/13 [Last modified: Saturday, July 6, 2013 12:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs


    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  2. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  3. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  4. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.