The Rays won their second straight game against the Orioles Saturday afternoon to begin a 10-game homestand.

Jeremy Hellickson was the most encouraging sign from this ballgame, as he appears to be returning to his 2011/2012 form. Hellickson tossed six very strong scoreless innings (96 pitches, 62 balls), allowing just four hits while striking out five and walking none.

The Rays' offense also enjoyed a good game, pounding touted prospect Kevin Gausman for seven runs in less than five innings.

RBI singles by Evan Longoria, Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist in the first two innings gave Tampa Bay a 3-0 advantage early. The Rays then broke it open in the fifth, exploding for five runs with a James Loney RBI single, a Luke Scott three-run triple and a Jose Lobaton RBI double.

Both Escobar (now batting .257) and Lobaton (.287) continue to stay hot at the plate, having three-hit games Saturday. Ben Zobrist also had three hits, including a pair of doubles.

The bullpen, which has been great for the Rays as of late, was perfect in this ballgame. Alex Torres pitched a 10-pitch seventh, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Torres has been sensational since being called back up to The Show this season; he's now scoreless through 11.1 innings, striking out 14 batters while walking just three and surrendering only one hit. Nothing's more exciting than the Rays' young pitching right now.

Jamey Wright and Kyle Farnsworth followed up to close out the blowout, pitching one quick inning each.

The Rays improve to 34-27 and move into third place in the AL East, now a half-game over Baltimore. They stand 1.5 games behind the Yankees and three games behind the first-place Red Sox.

The Rays will go for the big sweep Sunday afternoon at 1:40 ET. Matt Moore (8-1, 2.95 ERA) will square off against right-hander Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.97 ERA).

Rays News and Notes:

  • Check out who the Rays drafted on Days 2 and 3 of the MLB Draft. Among those drafted was bench coach Dave Martinez's son, Dalton, who was taken in the 31st round.
  • Brandon Gomes (lat strain) is making progress. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen session within the next few days, which means he could return in a few weeks.
  • This kind gesture by the Arizona Diamondbacks made baseball headlines yesterday.