Hellickson, Rays spoil Greinke’s Angels debut

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon warned anyone who would listen not

to underestimate Jeremy Hellickson on eve of his showdown with Zack

Greinke as the 2009 AL Cy Young winner prepared to make his first

start for the Los Angeles Angels.

As things turned out, Hellickson outpitched Greinke on Sunday

with six innings of two-hit ball in a 2-0 victory that gave the

Rays the finale of the three-game series.

Hellickson has won consecutive starts for the first time since

April 19-25, when he beat the Yankees 9-4 and followed that up with

a 3-2 victory over the Angels. He was 0-6 with a 4.29 ERA in nine

starts preceding these last two outings.

”Throwing strikes was the main thing,” Hellickson said. ”The

last two games I’ve been attacking the hitters better than I have

been. Having no walks is huge for me. I was getting ahead of guys,

and the defense was making good plays for me.”

Hellickson (6-6) struck out five and walked none. He retired 15

of his first 16 batters, allowing only Maicer Izturis’ leadoff

single in the fourth. The Angels’ other hit off him was a leadoff

single by Chris Iannetta in the sixth – a liner that deflected off

the glove of diving second baseman Ben Zobrist.

”He’s got good stuff,” Angels left fielder Vernon Wells said.

”He threw a little harder today than he normally does. He’s a good

pitcher. He keeps you off-balance and makes you hit his changeup,

which is a good one.”

Hellickson was under the weather the entire game, which was the

reason for his early exit.

”I give him a lot of credit. I know he was struggling through

the whole thing, and it was hot out there. So it made no sense to

send him back out there,” Maddon said. ”He was chalkier than a

Des Moines winter. You could see that his face was a little bit

red. It’s not easy when you’re ill to go out in that kind of heat

and keep your wits about you.”

Hellickson acknowledged that he threw up five times during the

game, a stat that won’t show up on his overall pitching line.

”It was hot today, and that was probably the reason,”

Hellickson said. ”I just had a little stomach ache and got a

little lightheaded there toward the end. I felt good enough to go

out there. I took some stuff before the game, but it kind of caught

up with me those last few innings. I felt I had to give us five or

six to save the bullpen. My arm felt good, and that’s all I really

needed.”

What Greinke needed more than anything were runs. But the Angels

were shut out for the second consecutive game – the first time

that’s happened since May 3-4 against Toronto at the ”Big A.”

Their 11th shutout loss tied Oakland for the most in the

majors.

”I think everybody was anxious to get Zack on the mound and see

him in an Angels uniform,” Wells said. ”He did what he was

supposed to do. We just didn’t score runs for him.”

Greinke (0-1) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings

and struck out eight. He gave up an RBI single to Matt Joyce in the

sixth and threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the seventh after

Carlos Pena doubled and advanced on a groundout.

”I made a lot of good pitches – but some bad ones, too,”

Greinke said. ”I thought my fastball command could have been a lot

better. I was pretty upset with the first-pitch curve ball to Pena.

The wild pitch was just a bad break. No catcher in the world would

have stopped that one. You throw a two-strike slider down and hope

that doesn’t happen.”

Greinke, eligible for free agency after the season, was acquired

on Friday in a trade that sent rookie infielder Jean Segura and

Double-A right-handers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg to Milwaukee.

He was 9-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 21 starts with the Brewers.

”Hopefully I’ll win a bunch of games and it becomes a fun

season,” Greinke said. ”Everything’s just happened pretty fast –

traveling here, meeting a bunch of new people, going over things

with the catcher and having a day game instead of a night game,

which would have made it easier to get adjusted. So a lot of stuff

was going on. But once you get on the mound, it’s the same game no

matter where you’re pitching and who it’s against.”

Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta followed with a perfect inning

each, and Fernando Rodney got three outs for his 30th save in 31

attempts, tying Baltimore’s Jim Johnson for the AL lead. With

runners on first and second, Rodney fell behind Albert Pujols 3-0

in the count before throwing a called strike and inducing a

game-ending, double-play grounder on a changeup away.

”There’s a lot of pressure situations out there. So when you’ve

got a guy like Pujols up there, you’ve got to make your pitch,”

Rodney said. ”I just tried to make a good pitch and get a ground

ball with something away. He tried to pull it and I got a ground

ball.”

… Angels rookie Mike Trout, who leads the AL with a .350

average, missed the game because of a sore left knee. He was

injured Saturday night when he tried to make a leaping catch

against the fence in left-center field on a home run by

Zobrist.

NOTES: Desmond Jennings, who had never faced Greinke in a

regular-season game, lined his first pitch into left field for a

single. … In his first game with the Brewers, Greinke lost 8-0

before going 6-0 in his next seven starts. … The Rays return to

Anaheim for a four-game series beginning Aug. 16.