THE GOOD: Jeff Niemann. The Giraffe was the master of pitch efficiency needing less than 10 pitches in 3 innings and less than 15 in 2 others…Joe Maddon. With the score 0-0, a runner on 3rd and just 1 out in the 2nd, Maddon went against the book and brought the infield in. The gamble paid off as Niemann got a ground ball to short followed by a flyball to center to get out of the inning without allowing a run…Carl Crawford. Two pitches after just missing a home run foul and with Roy Halladay distracted by BJ Upton running around the bases, CC launched ano-doubt home run to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
THE BAD: Niemann With Runners On. Teams are going to continue running wild on Niemann until he figures out how to hold them closer to the bag. Luckily the Jays didn’t have many men on base last night as he gave up just 1 steal. But it was Scott Rolen stealing third without a throw, for just his 3rd steal of the year. That could have been disastrous, and on many nights it will cost Niemann runs.
THE TELLING: Willy Aybar got the start at second base, spelling Ben Zobrist for the night…If the Rays win the division or make the playoffs by just 1 game, they can look back to this game. Jeff Niemann versus Roy Halladay should be a loss 9 out of 10 times. Winning this game was an absolute bonus. Like a free win. And who doesn’t love free stuff?…The Rays are 34-21 since May 1st, the best record in the AL over that span…The Rays now have the 4th 6th best record in all baseball and yet are only 3rd in the AL East.
SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jeff Niemann.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- A big point of emphasis this season for Joe Maddon has been 2-strike hitting and the Rays have gone from 23rd last season to 2nd this year in those situations. [St. Pete Times]
- You might think it is just Rays versus Jays. And you would be wrong. [Trop It Like It’s Hot]