ST PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 13: Pitcher Jeff Niemann #34 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Florida Marlins during the game at Tropicana Field on June 13, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
The Rays improved their record to 9-7 and won the series by defeating the Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 26,507. Jeff Niemann earned the victory working 5.1 innings giving up 2R/2ER on 3 hits while striking out 5, walking 2, and hitting 1 batter. He threw 80 pitches (47 for strikes). Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney worked the final 3.2 innings.
The Rays broke through against Francisco Liriano in the bottom of the 3rd without the benefit of a hit. Liriano issued back to back walks to Sean Rodriguez and Chris Gimenez and hit Elliot Johnson who was attempting to sacrifice bunt. Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist hit back to back sacrifice flies to plate the games first 2 runs.
The Rays extended their lead to 3-0 in the 5th after Evan Longoria led off with the first hit of the game a ground rule double off the B-ring in left, moved to 3rd on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Keppinger, and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of. B.J. Upton.
The Rays pushed the lead to 5-0 in the fifth. Chris Gimenez led off with a single but was erased at 2b when Elliot Johnson pushed a bunt back to Francisco Liriano. Desmond Jennings made the failed sacrifice bunt irrelevant by hitting a 2-run homer to put the Rays in front 5-0.
The Twins cut the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the 6th. Niemann surrendered back to back singles to Denard Span and Jamey Carroll and after retiring Joe Mauer on a pop out he hit Josh Willingham to load the bases. Jake McGee entered the game to face Justin Morneau and struck him out before Wade Davis was called on to face pinch hitter Ryan Doumit who lined a 2-run single to center field to plate 2 runs.
The Rays got one run back to extend their lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Glen Perkins walked Carlos Pena to lead off the inning and he advanced to second on a passed ball. Evan Longoria singled to put runners at 1st and 3rd with nobody out. Jeff Keppinger's fly ball to center fielder Denard Span wasn't deep enough to score Pena from third but B.J. Upton's fly ball to Clete Thomas in right was.
The Rays held on to win 6-2 and will enjoy a well deserved day off and will host the L.A. Angels starting Tuesday. The Rays are in the middle of playing 26 games in 27 days (April 10 through May 6) with tomorrow being the only day off.
More after the jump
Swinging Away?: With runners at the corner and a 3-0 pitch Ben Zobrist swung away. Should he have taken the pitch?
Rays Defense Miscues: Sean Rodriguez failed to catch a throw from Carlos Pena that would of easily retired Josh Willingham. Carlos Pena has a groundball deflect off his glove for an error. Evan Longoria double clutches on a 5-4-3 double play attempt and only gets the force out at 2nd. B.J. Upton fielded a single by Jamey Carroll and uncorked a throw over the cutoff man to try and nail Denard Span at third but Jamey Carroll failed to advance to second.
Failed Execution?: With Chris Gimenez at first base Elliot Johnson attempted a sacrifice bunt. Francisco Liriano came off the mound and threw to 2b for the force out. Was it a nice play by Francisco Liriano (in tandem with a slow base runner) or a poor bunt attempt by Elliot Johnson?
Sacrifice Flies: The Rays set a team record by scoring on 4 sacrifice flies.
Attendance Analyis: From Jason Collette - Rays have had 175,613 attend games at Tropicana so far - that's 85.8% occupancy so far. 2011 figure was 55.4%. Will the Rays draw 2 million fans this year?
Rodney Time: Fernando Rodney has recorded the final out for the Rays in 8 of 9 victories this season.