Jeff Niemann Disappointing, Joe Maddon Ejected In Rays Loss

Jeff Niemann faced off against Gavin Floyd and the White Sox, searching for the Rays second win of the season.

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Niemann, Maddon Lose Control In Rays Loss

Jeff Niemann had no command on his pitches today, and has not performed well since his injury last season. Lasting only 2.2 innings, you have to wonder if he will keep the rest of the season. The Rays have a wealth of talent in the minors, if The Big Nyquill can't get it together we may see a mid-season call up. Then again, it's only been his second start of the season. There's no reason to condemn the man until he's had the chance to prove his worth.

The Rays started to put offense on the board in the sixth. With one out Sam Fuld doubled to get on base and Johnny Damon moved him to third on a single. BJ Upton flew out for the second out and then all hell let loose. Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd attempted to pick off the runner at first but threw it away to allow Sam Fuld to score and Damon to take third.

Dan Johnson then railed a pitch nearly down the first base line but Paul Konerko knocked it in the air and bobbled the catch. He tossed the ball to Gordon Beckham who threw it to first where Gavin Floyd was ready to make the out. Floyd however dropped the pass and Johnson was called safe, allowing Damon to score. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen quickly made his way to the field to argue Floyd merely dropped the ball transferring hands, and the umpires huddled up to agree calling the third out.

Joe Maddon then raced on the field, infuriated. It was surprising to see the call overturned, similar calls normally land in favor of the runner and it was never clear Floyd maintained possession of the ball before taking a step. Maddon would eventually be ejected, but would not leave the field until he ejected all four umpires himself. You can watch the whole scene unfold here

The game would end in a loss for the Rays, 6-1. On the bright side, long reliever Andy Sonnanstine pitched a gem, allowing a mere three hits over 5.2 innings. Unfortunately, it would not be enough for the Rays offense to take advantage of. The bats would fall silent for the last three innings. 

Tampa has been limited to one run in seven of their first nine games, posting a record of 1-8. Statistical regression argues the slump will not last much longer, and the return of Evan Longoria from the disabled list will spur that along. 


Niemann Struggles With Command, Leaves In The Third Inning

So much for improved effectiveness. Jeff Niemann continued to struggle in his start today, lasting just 2.2 innings while throwing only 63% of his pitches for strikes. He walked two batters while only striking out one, and left with the Rays in a 5-0 hole.

Even when Niemann could get the ball over the plate, he struggled with his pitch location. Niemann left the ball over the middle of the plate too often, and many of his pitches were elevated. This poor location led to a lot of hard hit balls and a total of five hits allowed, including two homeruns and a double.

Andy Sonnanstine replaced Jeff Niemann on the mound, and he’s held the White Sox scoreless so far. But the damage has already been done: the Rays are having a hard time getting anything going on offense against Gavin Floyd, and Matt Joyce has their only hit so far this game. With the way their offense has performed recently, five runs may be more than enough to give the White Sox the win.


Niemann, Rays Shoot For Second Win Against White Sox

After losing yesterday and falling to 1-7 on the season, the Tampa Bay Rays hand the ball to Jeff Niemann to help get them their second win. Niemann will be facing Gavin Floyd, a 28-year-old right hander that posted an ERA just over four each of the past two seasons.

Floyd is a slightly above average starting pitcher, and his peripheral statistics suggest that he's better than his ERA would suggest: he strikes out around seven batters per nine will limiting walks, and he had a 50% groundball rate last season. He's not an ace, but with the way the Rays have been struggling on offense, he is likely still good enough to make them a struggle.

Niemann is coming off a disappointing first start, in which he allowed five runs in only six innings. Most of his struggles came in the first two innings, after which he settled down and pitched effectively, but his final line was less than impressive: he struck out four while allowing nine total hits, including one homerun. Hopefully Niemann's early struggles were simply a result of it being his first start of the season, as the Rays' offense is considerably weaker without Evan Longoria or Manny Ramirez

Rays' Lineup: Courtesy of Marc Topkin:

Fuld lf
Damon dh
Upton cf
D. Johnson 1b
Zobrist 2b
Joyce rf
Rodriguez 3b
Shoppach c
Brignac ss

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