Offense Wakes Up, Rays Beat Cards 5-1

Jeff Niemann (W, 3-4), making his third start since returning from the DL, pitched 6 solid innings while allowing only one run. Niemann gave up a total of 9 hits on the night, but 5 of those were infield hits, underscoring his overall strong outing.

The Rays offense, meanwhile, continued to look inept through the first five innings. Despite getting lead off runners in the 1st, 2nd, and 5th inning, the only score through 5 was the Lance Berkman solo home run in the 4th. Down 0-1 going into the 6th inning, Johnny Damon again led off with a single. Ben Zobrist then pushed him to second on a walk, and two batters later, B.J. Upton loaded the bases.

With two outs, Casey Kotchman hit a hard ground ball past first base, clearing the bases with a double. Justin Ruggiano promptly followed with a home run to deep center field, giving the Rays their consummate 5-1 lead.

In an apparent effort to consternate league scorers, Joe Maddon elected to use five relievers against the Cardinals. The combination of Cesar Ramos, Juan Cruz, J.P. Howell, Joel Peralta, and Kyle Farnsworth pitched the final three frames, allowing only a hit and a walk.

Notes from the game:

  • Niemann pitched well enough to get into the 7th, but left before getting any outs. After his drubbing in Milwaukee, it is nice to see him go deep, sporting an acceptable 5:2 K/BB ratio.
  • Justin Ruggiano has apparently picked up where he left off in Durham, tonight hitting home run number four. He also had an impressive sliding catch early in the game.
  • Johnny Damon went 4 for 4 tonight, passing Ted Williams on the all time hit list. Damon, however, is no Ted Williams (who missed prime seasons to serve in World War II and the Korean War). Nonetheless, congrats Damon. You are already about 75% of the way towards being the Rays best DH and free agent signing.
  • Smoker unis. What do you think?
Damon on Kotchman (everyone should listen to this)


American League Wild Card Standings

Boston 48 34 .585 0 Won 3
Tampa Bay 46 37 .554 2.5 Won 1
Detroit 44 39 .530 4.5 Lost 1
Los Angeles 42 41 .506 6.5 Lost 1
Chicago 42 42 .500 7 Won 4
Seattle 40 42 .487 8 Won 1
Toronto 40 44 .476 9 Lost 3
Oakland 37 46 .445 11.5 Won 1
Baltimore 35 45 .437 12 Lost 5
Minnesota 35 46 .432 12.5 Lost 1
Kansas City 33 49 .402 15 Lost 4

(updated 7.2.2011 at 10:31 PM EDT)

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