If tomorrow is 'Good Friday,' then tonight was 'Terrible Thursday.'
Jeff Niemann couldn't keep the Rays streak of starters throwing seven innings alive as he couldn't make it out of the fifth inning tonight. His final line: 4.2 IP, 6R, 5ER, 6H, 2BB, 2HBP, 4K. If there's a bright spot to Niemann's outing, it's that he didn't allow a home run to a White Sox team that blasted two in the first inning the last time they faced him.
The White Sox wasted no time getting on the board as Juan Pierre led off the game with an excellent bunt down the third base line. Felipe Lopez handled the ball, but his throw to first baseman Casey Kotchman was in the dirt and Kotchman just couldn't vacuum it up. Pierre would advance to third and be driven home by an Omar Vizquel groundout a few pitches later. If anyone wanted to make an argument about whether Lopez or Kotchman should be DFA's when Evan Longoria comes off the DL, now is the time.
Once Niemann left the game, the pitching struggles, unfortunately, continued. Cesar Ramos allowed a runner inherited from Niemann to score in the fifth and would get the favor returned to him as Adam Russell allowed two of Ramos' runs to plate in the sixth.
For his part, Gavin Floyd looked extremely hittable tonight. The Rays had eleven base runners in innings two through four, but only plated two runs. It's amazing what an ill-timed pickoff or GIDP will do to a rally. Of all those innings, it was most surprising that the Rays scored when they did in the fourth.
Zobrist led off the inning with a
screamer well placed dribbler down the third base line, but was wiped out by a B.J. Upton GIDP. Casey Kotchman came to bat with two outs and the "always patient" first baseman drew the walk and would move to third as the Rays would load the bases on a John Jaso single up the middle and a Reid Brignac HBP. Tiny-Spartan-Warrior Sam Fuld would keep the hope alive and drive in Kotchman and Jaso on a sharp single to right. But that's all the Rays would get in the fourth as Johnny Damon struck out looking to end the two-out rally.
- Juan Pierre and Omar Vizquel were a combined 4-9, 4R, 2RBI, 2SB. I'm sure they're going to go home and party like it's 2001.
- The Niemann-Jaso battery got off the schneid when Carlos Quentin was caught stealing in the first inning. Of course, both Pierre and Vizquel would steal successfully (Vizquel embarrassingly so), but who cares? Way to go, guys!
- Sam Fuld did his best Col. Nathan Jessup impression as he caught a foul ball against the left field wall. "You want him on that wall. You NEED him on that wall." I just don't know who he's going to order the Code Red on.
- If you missed the game, well, you picked the right one. I'd say the highlight of the night was the brief glimpse we got at DRB Legend and TPR stalwart Tommy Rancel. (Pictured far right, as if you needed me to tell you that) Joking aside, that really was a highlight. r/a Steve Slow for the pic. Aww, hell, r/a's for all!
- Tomorrow is an "AL East Showdown" as the Rays head up to the Great White North to face the Blue Jays. Will Hellboy freeze over, or can the Rays bats dance all over Jo Jo Reyes? Find out tomorrow at 7:07 PM eastern time.