Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays finish sweep of New York Yankees with 3-0 victory

ST. PETERSBURG — Jeremy Hellickson didn't get much for his 25th birthday Sunday.

His girlfriend had brought him a watch when she came down during the spring. His grandmother got him cologne. An aunt sent a few shirts. But his parents only called and sent cards, and his Rays teammates failed to provide even a cake.

"My family kind of forgets about me," he said. "I'm not lying when I tell you there wasn't much."

Hellickson instead treated himself, delivering a masterful performance to celebrate the occasion with a 3-0 series-sweeping win over the Yankees.

"That's a pretty good birthday present right there," he said.

The Rays came out of the weekend 3-0 for the second time in franchise history, with the Yankees and, for what it's worth, the Red Sox both 0-3.

"We played well for the first three games," manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm really pleased with that."

The starters are 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA, despite James Shields' rough outing. The relievers not named Josh Lueke are 1-0, 1.58 with two saves, Fernando Rodney thus far stepping in capably for injured Kyle Farnsworth. The offense is hitting .302 and averaging six runs a game, with contributions from throughout the lineup.

"It's been a good start for us, obviously," first baseman Carlos Peña said.

Sunday, before a Tropicana Field crowd of 30,413, they took a first-inning lead for the third straight game, with Evan Longoria (hitting a toasty .600) doubling and Matt Joyce (hitting .333) tripling past Raul Ibanez, and built from there. Peña (hitting .500, with seven RBIs) homered in the third (and just missed another in the fifth when the umps ruled fan interference) and Jeff Keppinger (hitting .444) went deep in the sixth.

"We've been working good at-bats against a really good pitching staff," Maddon said.

The three runs was more than enough for Hellickson, who was his usual cool, calm and collected self on the mound, showing only glimpses of emotion, such as when he struck out Nick Swisher to end the sixth, and earlier when centerfielder Desmond Jennings ran down a long drive.

And even more so in the dugout.

"He's just ice cold," Peña said. "I'm looking at him on the bench and I'm like, 'You alive buddy? You okay there?' "

Oh, he was more than okay, allowing the Yankees only three hits, though walking four, and getting out of what little trouble he got into. He mixed his pitches, including liberal use of his new cutter, attacked the strike zone more frequently with his fastball, got his usual amount of weak contact (15 infield outs) and worked well with catcher Jose Molina.

He looked much like he did last season when he won 13 games, with a 2.95 ERA, and the American League rookie of the year award, and nothing like the pitcher who struggled through spring training with an 0-2, 9.00 mark, allowing 33 hits in 20 innings.

"I felt really good out there," Hellickson said.

"That was unbelievable; that's the story right there," Peña said. "There's nothing you could say that would describe that type of performance. That was very impressive."

The only thing that would have made it better was a 27th out. Maddon gave him the chance for a complete game, beginning the ninth with 103 pitches, and it looked good when he got Alex Rodriguez to fly out and Mark Teixeira to ground out, but a six-pitch walk of Swisher (after being ahead 1-and-2) ended his day at 118 pitches. (Still, the 82/3 shutout innings were the most by any Rays pitcher against the Yankees.)

"You always want to finish what you start," Hellickson said. "I'm probably more disappointed about that than as happy as I am about the outing."

All that was left was to celebrate the birthday, with his grandparents who had come from their native Iowa. A couple of teammates said they'd still try to get him a cake. Hellickson wondered if some relatives would come to Detroit for the series that starts Tuesday bearing gifts.

Maddon said he earned the right to do whatever he wanted:

"It's Helly day."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Of 3-0 and 0-3

• The only other time the Rays started a season 3-0 was 2002, and they went on to lose a franchise-record 106 games.

• The last time the Yankees started a season 0-3 was 1998, and they went on to win an MLB-most 114 games and the World Series. Also, it's the second time the Yankees and Red Sox are both 0-3 (also in 1966).

Tampa Bay Rays finish sweep of New York Yankees with 3-0 victory 04/08/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 9, 2012 10:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  2. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week

    Bucs

    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.