When you can score five runs while Felix Hernandez is on the mound you're normally going to win that game. Such wasn't the case last night. Jeff Niemann didn't pitch his best, but he pitched well enough to win. The bullpen that had been so good, especially lately, faltered a bit and that was that. It's too bad the Rays couldn't capitalize on the Yankee's win and move even closer to Boston in the wild card race.
-Niemann threw only 89 pitches through his 6.1IP. He actually threw his fastball for a strike 74% of the time. Don't ask me how. It was the 7th inning that game him trouble, with a fat version of Ken Griffey Junior taking him deep. When that's happening it's probably a good indicator that you're effectiveness is wearing thin.
-Brian Shouse allowed another hit to a left handed batter, which allowed the tying runs to score. With Randy Choate around, and the recent addition of R.J. Swindle, Shouse's time in the Rays pen may be limited.
-J.P. In, Game Lost. Those are words we haven't said too much this season. Howell has been one of the best relievers in baseball all year, so I'm not going to jump on him when he has a bad outing. It was the first time he has lost a game or blown a save in over a month. Howell hung a curveball and Langerhans hit it. Move on. Next game.
-Whatever Joe Maddon said to Pat Burrell during their extended BP session before the final game of the Boston series apparently worked. Burrell is 2-8 in his past two games, but has two home runs and only two strikeouts(!) in that span. His OPS is now even up over .700. Hooray.
-Jason Bartlett's home run in the 11th inning was his 10th of the season. He needs one more home run to match his career total of 11. I doubt any other full time players in the majors can say that.
-Tonight James Shields faces the newly acquired Ian Snell. Shields is coming off a disappointing start where he had a no hitter through seven innings, but somehow ended up with a loss to the Royals. This is Snell's first start in the Big Boy League, let's hope the Rays can hit him as well as the National League did.