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.