Tigers 7, RAYS 2 (boxscore)
THE GOOD: Jeff Niemann. We will continue our trend of looking for the positive in the starting pitchers even on bad days. As for Niemann, when did he become a “crafty veteran”? Niemann threw 6 different pitches yesterday, and he threw 5 of those pitches at least 10 times. Late last year, Niemann abandoned his slider and was throwing his change more. Yesterday he used both, along with his curveball and two fastballs. The velocity wasn’t what we would like (90-91). But the selection of pitches tells us we have a brand new, brand crafty Giraffe on our hands this year.
THE BAD: Different Year, Same Shhhhhrimp. The Rays were facing a pitcher making his big league debut. And right off the bat, the Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning. And they didn’t score one run. Not one…Missed Call. With one out in the 5th and the Rays up 1-0, Alex Avila stole second base and slid past the bag. Elliot Johnson appeared to apply a tag just before Avil got his hand back on the bag, but was ruled safe (You can see the video below. And you can see the key image HERE). It is clearly a close call, so it is not like the umpire blew it. We had to slow it down frame-by-frame to see what happened. But Avila does look out. He would later tie the game, and two other runs would score that inning with 2 outs. Rather than being up 1-0 heading to the 6th, the Rays were down 3-1.
THE TELLING: Joe Maddon is one win shy of 500. Of course, we have no idea why he gets credit for those two wins back in ’06 when he left the team to attend his wife’s graduation. Now, we don’t have a problem with him attending the ceremony. We just don’t understand why he gets credit for those wins. That’s all…Today is the home opener for the Red Sox.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- It’s not official yet, and he still has to pass some more tests, but it sounds like Jeremy Hellickson will make his start tomorrow. [TBO.com]
- And Jose Lobaton is the latest casualty, injuring his shoulder. Keep in mind that the Rays’ third catcher, Robinson Chirinos, is on the shelf with concussion issues. Would the Rays go with Stephen Vogt as the second catcher? Eek. Think John Jaso behind the plate. It won’t be pretty. [TBO.com]
- Pat Burrell will sign a one-day contract with the Phillies and then retire a Phillie. Geez. It’s like he never did anything with the Rays. Oh wait… [MLBTR]
- Bobby Valentine is already clashing with Boston media. This is going to be fun. It reminds us of Barry Melrose’s short stint with the Bolts. [BI Sports]
- Luke Scott had some not-so-kind words for Fenway. [TampaBay.com]
- An umpire mocked Joe Girardi and asked him if he wanted to umpire. [BI Sports]
- Most ridiculous play of the year so far? Yep. [BI Sports]
- Jonny Gomes is a lucky dude, in an unlucky way. [BI Sports]
- The Bucs can now accept advertising dollars from Casinos. [JoeBucsFan]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
Gwinnett 7, DURHAM 1. Jhonny Nunez gave up 1 run in 3 innings, striking out 3 and walking 1…Recently acquired John Gaub pitched one scoreless inning, striking out 1…SS Tim Beckham went 1-4 with a double and 2 strikeouts. He also committed 2 errors and has 4 early in the season.
MONTGOMERY 3, Mississippi 2. Kyle Lobstein struck out 5 and walked 3 in 5 innings. He gave up 2 runs…SS Hak-Ju Lee went 0-3 with a walk…2B Tyler Bortnick had a triple in 3 at bats and drove in a pair.
CHARLOTTE 4, Jupiter 0. Enny Romero pitched 4 hitless innings, but walked 6, while striking out 4…1B Philip Wunderlich was 1-3 with a walk…RF Mikie Mahtook went 0-3 with a walk.
BOWLING GREEN 5, Lake County 2. Felipe Rivero tossed 6 shutout innings, striking out 3 and walking none…DH Jeff Malm hit his 1st home run of the season…RF Drew Vettleson went 1-4 with 3 strikeouts.