Jeff Niemann (W, 9-5) continued his late-season surge on Saturday, striking out 6 Toronto Blue Jays en route to a 6-5 Tampa Bay Rays win. Niemann did allow three runs on the day, but he appeared in control through his 6 and 1/3 innings.
His biggest accomplishment was keeping the homer-happy Jays in the yard -- a feet both Jake McGee and Juan Cruz could not replicate. After J.P. Howell finished the 7th frame in typical Ice Man fashion, the pair of McGee and Cruz tag-teamed the 8th inning, whereupon they allowed home runs to Eric Thames and Edwin Encarnacion respectively.
With the usual closer, Kyle Farnsworth, unavailable for some yet-known reason, the Rays fireman, Joel Peralta, got the closing duties, slamming the door with three pop flies in the ninth.
The Rays hitters showed some power again today, as B.J. Upton crushed a decisive three-run homer in the 7th inning, and Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez added some run-scoring doubles as well. Meanwhile, Evan Longoria went 0 for 2, but walked 3 times (one of which turned intentional after Longo worked a 3-1 count).
Walks from Longoria and Sam Fuld (who was batting second on the day) proved valuable as the 2-3 duo scored a trio of runs despite going a combined 0 for 5.
Meanwhile, Sean Rodriguez -- starting at first with Casey Kotchman feeling fluish -- and Elliot Johnson both went 3 for 4 with a caught stealing (and Johnson also got a not-caught stealing too).
The Rays continue the four game set with a 1:07 p.m. ET start tomorrow. David Price and Brandon Morrow team up for what promises to be a lower scoring affair than today.