“Inter-Leake” at the Trop, Reds Roll

By on June 27, 2011

St. Petersburg, Fl. (RSEN) The first batter of the game, Reds left fielder Fred Lewis set the tone for the Red Gang from the banks of the Ohio.  Lewis ripped a 2-2 pitch up the middle past the glove of Jeremy Hellickson.  The next batter, second baseman Brandon Phillips, crushes a full count pitch deep over the head of center fielder BJ Upton.  Lewis who was running on the pitch scored easily. 

After two consecutive outs, right fielder Jay Bruce would single home Phillips and the Reds would have a two run advantage. Homecoming guest Johnny Gomes would fly out to left to end the inning.  When Gomes was announced he received a warm welcome from the Rays fans for his return to the Trop.  Gomes said after, “I hadn’t been here in a while.  I saw some familiar faces and it was a good opportunity to come back to the Trop.”

Enter Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake and the Reds started the victory cruise.

The Reds would strike for their third run on the next Gomes at bat.  To lead off the visitors half of the fourth Gomes pops a high deep fly ball off the c-ring catwalk 105 feet above the field.  This bomb  would be the 64th home run off this catwalk in Tropicana Field history.  I asked Rays left fielder Sam Fuld if he saw the ball hit the cat walk and he said, “No, I really had no idea. I put my head down and tried to pick it back up. I did not see it til it was shooting like straight down. Initially I thought,  man I missed played that ball. I still don’t know what it hit.”  Fuld was close to catching the ball that came straight down which would have made a good hi-light if anything else. For Gomes it was his 11th homer of the season.   Gomes joked afterwards, “It was a good opportunity to show the Reds the guidelines on the catwalk.”

The Reds would tack on another later that inning courtesy of an Evan Longoria error and back to back singles from Lewis and Phillips.    4 – 0 Reds.

In the home half of the sixth the Rays had something going until the mental mistake rally killer arrived.   With Ben Zobrist on second and Evan Longoria on first, no outs  Matt Joyce launches a deep, deep fly ball to left center.   The speedy Reds left fielder Fred Lewis tracks down the ball to retire Joyce.   As Zobrist hustles back to second base to tag, Longoria is inexplicably rounding second.  Did Longo wave as he went by Zobrist?  Zobrist tags, makes third and Longoria is called out for passing his teammate on the base path.   The typical F-7, 6 unassisted double play.  After the game Joe Maddon commented, “He (Longoria) messed it up. Zo made the right read, and because of the runner ahead of you, you have to keep your head up and not run by.  He made a mistake and knows it.  A little bit overzealous and as the trail runner you always have to see the runner in front of you, and he failed to do that.”  Mike Leake of the Reds said, “It was a brian fart. He (Longoria) doesn’t make too many mistakes.  That was a little gift to me.” It would be easier for Longo to go to Macy’s.

With two now down, Casey Kotchman bounces harmlessly to Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips for his sixth assist of the game.

With the score 4-0 Cincinnati, Ceasar Ramos would relieve Hellickson to start the seventh.  Hellickson again the victim of no run support had a shaky first and left giving up eight hits, three earned runs but did strike out nine. The L dropped Hellickson to 7 and 7 on the season.  Hellickson said after the game,    “I mean, I gotta do a better job in the first inning obviously.  I did a good job battling and it’s not easy going back out there after a first inning like that. So I’m proud of myself for that.”

Mike Leake’s six innings of shut-out pitching spread out four Rays hits which was plenty enough effort to earn him the win.  Relievers Sam LeCure, two innings and Nick Masset limited the Rays to one hit each.  Leake’s record improved to 7 and 4. Joe Maddon after the game said, “Pitcher, pitcher. He’s an absolute pitcher, he’s knows what he doing out there. He knows how to change speeds. He can throw a strike when he wants to… sunk the ball, cut the ball.  I can really understand why he’s successful.”

The inter-league series continues tomorrow, June 28th at 7:10 with David Price (8-6) going for the Rays against Johnny Cueto (6-2) for the Reds.

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