The Rays ended what was a rather disappointing 2012 season Wednesday night on a high note.
Tampa By sought to end the year with 90 wins, while the Orioles looked to win the AL East for the first time in 15 years. The Rays would play spoiler, however, and crushed Baltimore's hopes of that happening.
The Rays started off the scoring in the bottom of the first, when Evan Longoria belted a solo shot to begin what would be another huge Game 162 for him.
Longo hit his second home run of the game in the fourth to make it a 2-0 contest. Later in the inning, Ryan Roberts would blast a longball of his own to extend the Rays' lead to three.
Meanwhile Jeremy Hellickson was on the mound for the Rays having himself another good outing. Helly would exit after 5 1/3 innings, after allowing just a single hit and no runs while striking out six Orioles. It was another successful season for him in 2012, as he went 10-11 with an impressive 3.10 ERA through 177 innings pitched.
In the bottom half of that six inning Longoria went back to work, hitting his third homer of the game—this time to straightaway center—to make it a 4-0 ballgame.
In the ninth, the O's would get to Joel Peralta for a run which lead to Fernando Rodney entering the game with two outs. Rodney would get Jim Thome to fly out to seal victory and notch his 48th save of the season.
Not only did Rodney have the greatest single season by any Rays closer ever, but he also had one of the best seasons by a closer ever, period. He set the relief pitcher ERA record by posting a 0.60 ERA, breaking Dennis Eckersley's former record from 1990. He also was was 48/50 in save opportunities (although he really only had one blown save as one of them was not at all his fault).
So at the end of the day, it was sad to see the Rays end their season without advancing to the playoffs, but it was a rather bittersweet ending. They unfortunately blew some good opportunites in 2012, but the future still remains bright for Tampa Bay.
Notable Stat Lines:
- J. Hellickson (W,10-11): 0 R, H, 6 K, BB through 5.1 IP.
- E. Longoria: 3-4, 3 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI
- R. Roberts: 1-3, HR, R, RBI
Rays News and Notes:
- Jeff Niemann (shoulder) threw of the mound Wednesday without any issues, and said he'll be 100% ready to go for spring training.
- Stephen Vogt ended his rookie season 0-25.
- The Rays' incredible pitching staff ended the season with the MLB lead in ERA (3.19), FIP (3.51), opponents batting average (.228) and the AL record for strikouts (1,383). It's the lowest AL team ERA since the 1990 A's (3.18) and the lowest opponent's batting average ever by an AL team in the DH era.
- Offensively, the Rays led the majors in walks (571) and were second in the AL in stolen bases (134), just one shy of the Twins.
- The Rays once again finished last in attendance in the majors (1,599,681 total, 19,255 average) but still did better than last year's attendance (1,529,188 total, 18,879 average).
- Wednesday's game was the 61st game Rays pitchers struck out at least 10 opponent batters (an MLB record).
- B.J. Upton singled in the eighth inning in what was probably his last at-bat as a Ray, and exited (pinch runner) with a standing ovation. Here's a video of the emotional moment: