SEATTLE -- Jeremy Hellickson has the numbers to show that he's among the best rookie pitchers in baseball this season.
The 24-year-old right-hander held the Seattle Mariners to five hits and a run over seven-plus innings, becoming the first AL rookie with 10 wins as the Tampa Bay Rays rolled to an 8-1 victory Sunday.Hellickson (10-7) is the quickest Tampa Bay rookie to 10 wins since Rolando Arrojo reached the mark on June 27, 1998. He leads AL rookies in wins and is the first one with 10 before August since Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka (12) in 2007.This all comes as no surprise to Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon."He's been that guy his whole career," Maddon said. "Even in the minor leagues he's been successful."In six minor league seasons, Hellickson was 49-16. He went 12-3 for Triple-A Durham last season before a brief period with the Rays in which he was 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA.Now, he is 14-7 in 23 career starts for the Rays.Sean Rodriguez had three hits, including his fifth home run, and three RBIs. Ben Zobrist added three hits and three RBIs for Tampa Bay.Jason Vargas (6-10) went 5 1/3 innings for the Mariners. He allowed nine hits and six runs, four earned. He walked one and struck out six.Hellickson carried a no-hitter into the sixth but Chone Figgins, batting .184, opened with a single to center and Franklin Gutierrez followed with another single. Hellickson retired the next three batters on a flyout and two foulouts."The fastball command was there, getting ahead of guys early and just throwing strikes," Hellickson said. "When you're getting quick outs and throwing strikes it gives you a little more confidence. I just kept attacking the zone."It was a sloppy start for the Mariners, and the Rays took advantage. Desmond Jennings reached on a game-opening error by shortstop Brendan Ryan. Jennings made it to third on a steal of second and a throwing error by catcher Miguel Olivo.Evan Longoria then hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Figgins, who came home with it. Jennings, who broke on contact, scored with an evasive slide around Olivo's tag attempt."The aggressive mentality derived from that kind of play helps your whole group," Maddon said.Jennings, recalled from Durham on July 22, said, "you just anticipate a groundball being hit somewhere. I got a good jump on it. I got off far enough that I could make it on contact."In the third, Sam Fuld reached on first baseman Adam Kennedy's one-out error. Fuld eventually scored on Zobrist's single to left.The three errors tied a Mariners season high, set May 16 against Minnesota.Tampa Bay added two more in the fourth. Kelly Shoppach opened with a single, then Matt Joyce doubled when Gutierrez just missed on a diving attempt. Both runners scored on Rodriguez's bloop single to center for a 4-0 lead.Casey Kotchman made it 5-0 with a two-out single to left to score Zobrist, who had doubled.It was the fourth straight start in which Vargas couldn't get past the sixth inning. It also was his fifth straight loss."It's been a rough stretch lately," Vargas said. "I haven't really pitched good since coming back from the break. I'm just not making those big pitches when I need to and I'm getting the pitch count up early."Zobrist pushed his team-leading RBI total to 61 with a two-out, two-run single in the sixth off Dan Cortes.Rodriguez opened the eighth with his shot over the left-field wall on a 1-2 pitch from Charlie Furbush, acquired Saturday in a trade with Detroit.The Mariners finally scored rather awkwardly in the seventh. Mike Carp and Olivo opened with singles, and Kennedy forced Olivo at second. Casper Wells, who arrived with Furbush from Detroit, lifted a blooper that dropped into shallow right-center. Carp scored but Kennedy, unsure whether the ball would drop, was thrown out scrambling for second.Wells was credited with an RBI but his 'hit' turned into a fielder's choice.
Two of the four players acquired by Seattle in Saturday's six-player trade with Detroit were added to the big league roster. Wells started in left field and Furbush worked one inning. Wells is the first player named Casper to reach the majors. ... Furbush is expected to start in place of LHP Erik Bedard, traded to Boston just before game time. ... Zobrist extended his hitting streak to 11 games. During that span he is batting .413 (19 of 46).