Rays Win Thriller On Longoria’s Walk-Off Blast

It was another wild night in Tampa Bay, and the Rays–for the fourth straight game—came out on top. They once again blew a lead late in the game Saturday night, but this time the bullpen was not at fault.

On the mound for the Rays was Jeremy Hellickson against San Diego’s Burch Smith, who made his MLB debut.

The Padres struck first in this ballgame, plating a pair of runs on Chase Headley’s homer in the first inning. The Rays, however, would retaliate with a six-run explosion in the second.

James Loney’s game-tying two-run mammoth shot started things off, followed by a two-run single by Yunel Escobar with the bases loaded and then a Matt Joyce RBI double. All seven batters Smith faced in the inning reached base safely, which led to an early exit for him and a final line of six earned runs in just one inning pitched.

San Diego’s strong bullpen would then take over, and did a great job down shutting down Tampa Bay’s red-hot bats for 7 2/3 straight scoreless innings.

With a comfortable 6-2 lead, Hellickson appeared to be on a roll as he was perfect until the seventh after the shaky first inning. But Helly would collpase, unfortunately.

After a leadoff walk, two rather lucky softly-hit singles put him in a bases loaded and two outs situation. Jesus Guzman then delivered with a game-tying grand slam, driving Hellickson out of the game and destroying what was a strong outing.

Jamey Wright entered in relief with two outs and the bases empty. A Ben Zobrist fielding error allowed the first batter he faced to reach base, leading to another Padres rally. They took the lead with a go-ahead walk by Carlos Quentin, and then Cesar Ramos was able to stop the bleeding by striking out the next batter.

Ramos continued to come up big, tossing perfect eighth and ninth innings to keep the Rays’ deficit down to one.

In the bottom of the ninth, closer Huston Street tried to finish off an impressive comeback for the Friars and cap off a terrific performance by the ‘pen. Down with to their last strike, though, the Rays refused to go away so easily.

Ben Zobrist managed to draw a walk, bringing up Evan Longoria. Longo, who was quiet all evening, belted a 2-1 slider into the Captain Morgan Deck in left-center for a dramatic two-run walkoff homer.

The now .500 Rays go for the sweep this afternoon at 1:40 ET. Roberto Hernandez (1-4, 4.66 ERA) will square off against southpaw Eric Stults (3-2, 4.50 ERA).

News and Notes:

  • DRaysBay analyzes Jeremy Hellickson’s and Alex Cobb’s over-dependence on the changeup in their starts the past two nights. Helly threw 44.5% changeups in last night’s game.
  • Joe Maddon called out Hellickson after the game. I must say I’m a bit surprised.
  • Ben Zobrist had a role in a recent film.
  • Fernando Rodney’s plantain has returned.
  • Around the AL East: Adam Lind’s ninth inning homer lifted the Blue Jays over the Red Sox 3-2 in Boston, the Yankees’ held off the Royals for a 3-2 victory, and the Orioles lost to the Twins 8-5.

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