A night after losing in one of the more dramatic ways possible it was nice to see the Rays come out and get one back at Yankee Stadium.
Jeff Niemann had a typical Niemann start. He wasn't outstanding, but he wasn't awful either. He just...was. The Big Nyquil kept the Yankees in check but wasn't impressive in doing so. When you can keep an offense like that at bay without your best stuff, you're doing alright. He went 6.1IP, giving up six hits, four runs, four walks, and two home runs while striking out six batters. His command was clearly off. Brooksbaseball shows that he threw 42 TwoSeam fastballs, but recorded a strike on just 17 of them, or 41.46%. It was enough to get the victory, pushing his record to 8-2 on the season.
The Rays were helped out by the inept A.J. Burnett. Although he would leave with a hand injury in the third inning, the Rays still tagged him for four hits and four runs while only striking out once. The Rays seem to have Burnett's number this season. Coming into today's start Burnett had a 5.27ERA, 1.61WHIP and a .306BAA in two starts thus far.
The Rays bullpen did its job, with Benoit, Cormier, Balfour and Sonnanstine combining to give up just two hits and one run over the final three innings. That's more than you could say for New York's pen, which gave up nine hits and six runs, albeit in seven innings of relief.
Tomorrow the Rays have a chance to take the series and move to one game back of the Yankees in the standings. They'll send David Price to the mound, who will be opposed by Andy Pettitte. Young lefty against old lefty. Power against finesse. It should make for one hell of a game.
Some other thoughts:
- It made me down right happy to see Reid Brignac break out of his slump by hitting two home runs; his first since April 28th. Recently he had been sitting against some right handed pitchers, a disturbing trend for someone who is supposed to hit them fairly well. Hopefully this game can start him back on the track of success for the rest of the season.
- The same can be said for Carlos Pena. While I've given up on trying to predict if he will put up more consistent numbers, whenever he does well I'm going to enjoy it more than I would for most players. Carlos is a personal, and fan, favorite so seeing him have a big game elicits a higher amount of happiness. It also goes to show how much better this offense can be if he is producing. I'll take 4-5, 2B, HR, 3RBI, and 0K any day you'd like to offer it, Carlos.
- Speaking of Brignac and Pena, the Rays infield accounted for nearly all of the offensive production this afternoon. Brignac, Pena, Evan Longoria and Jason Bartlett combined to go 10-18 with 3HR, 8RBI, 2 2B, 8R, and 1SB.