Jeff Niemann pitched for the Rays today, in a 9-5 win over the Pirates. Niemann struggled through this outing. Many pitches seemed wild and one even got past Kelly Shoppach to allow a run in the second.
Niemann would give up three earned runs on nine hits with six strikeouts. A positive to see Ks on the board, but Niemann's pitches will need to settle down. Control will be Jim Hickey's focus as Niemann prepares for the regular season this week. The "Big Nyquill" projects as the Rays fifth starter, and will see his first action of the regular season against the Angels in Tampa.
- Joel Peralta, Cesar Ramos, and Andy Sonnanstine all get high marks for closing out the last three innings. Only Andy allowed one hit or one walk. All three men are expected to make the Rays bullpen this season. This bodes very well for Ramos, whose position has the most competition this Spring.
- Longoria was hit by a pitch with bases loaded to bring a runner home in the fifth. Manny Ramirez then took a walk to score yet another! It's great to see patience from Tampa's new power hitter.
- Competitors for the bench outfield position were on fire today. Justin Ruggiano had two hits and three RBIs in two at bats, while Sam Fuld scored a run and garnered two hits and two RBIs in three at bats. The only other batter with two hits today was backup infield hopeful Elliot Johnson.
- Rookie Jeremy Hellickson will get the start tomorrow against the Orioles.