THE GOOD: Rebounds. Despite his horrid first inning, Jeff Niemann managed to stay in the game into the 6th inning. In fact, at one point he retired 9 in a row…Joe Nelson. Nelson looked good with 2 shutout innings…Evan Longoria. He was only 2-4 with a double. He is doing his job. but he did ground into his third double-play already.
THE BAD: Bad Beginnings. Another bad first inning and this one was as bad as it gets. We were actually surprised Jeff Niemann did not get pulled. The first 6 batters all reached base including a grand slam, 2 ground-rule doubles and a hit batter. You could really see how nervous Niemann was in the first with the very deep breathing when Joe Maddon visited the mound..No offense. 1 run in two games off of the O’s starting pitchers just can’t happen. 0-11 with runners in scoring position doesn’t help.
THE TELLING: As young as the Rays are as a team, Jeff Niemann is the only rookie on the opening day roster…Joe Nelson and Lance Cormier pitched in similar situations the past two games, which does not shed light on which pitcher is low-man on the totem pole for when Jason Isringhausen is ready to join the Rays.
SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Dioner Navarro. 2 hits, including a double and we are going to give Navi some of the credit for Niemann’s ability to settle down after the first inning. It may not have been important for last night, but it could be important for Niemann’s psyche moving forward.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Turns out the Rays did not request to open at home this season. [St. Pete Times]
- Remember our worries about the color of David Price’s glove and how it might be illegal? Some pointed out that Scott Kazmir was using a glove with a similar color. Turns out MLB has told Kazmir to stop using the glove because the color is too light. They have also told Kid K to stop wearing his custom cleats, which are too blue. [St. Pete Times]
- In the same piece we learn that James Shields is going to be working from a new routine today in Baltimore to help with his road woes. [St. Pete Times]
- Marc Lancaster looks at how the Rays are attacking lefties this season. [Tampa Tribune]
- Todd Greene the Rays new quality assurance coach (which we had forgotten), was included in a story in the New York Times that links him to a doctor known to prescribe steroids. Greene testified before a grand jury about the relationship during his time as a player. [MLB]
- Marc Topkin notes that the Rays had the largest payroll increase in baseball this off-season and Topkin gives some reasons why. [St. Pete Times]