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Jeff Niemann Cruises Against Jays, Upton Hits Game-Winning Homer

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Let's get this out of the way to begin with: yes, I didn't get a chance to watch the game Saturday afternoon because I was prepping for the hurricane. I know, I know, I know. Us North Easterners are wimps. Crybabies. Over-reacting drama queens. Floridians have every right to give us grief, but hey, the worst natural disasters we normally have to worry about are blizzards. No tornadoes, mudslides, avalanches, volcanoes, earthquakes, or hurricanes. We live a sheltered existence...and you know, I'm okay with that. The hatches are battened, the flashlights and beer are on hand, and I'm ready for an adventure.

But anyway, on to the Rays. I don't have much to add, so check out Brad's recap over at SB Nation Tampa Bay for a blow-by-blow of the game. But here are a couple additional thoughts:

  •  Jeff Niemann may not have struck out 10 batters today, but it was still an all around solid start. He allowed three runs, but looking at his Pitch F/x chart, I really like what I see. He managed to strike out six batters in 6.1 IP, and he made the Blue Jays swing and miss on a heck of a lot of pitches -- 12, to be exact. Not only that, but he got batters to whiff on every one of his major pitches: both his fastballs, his changeup, and his curveball. He did let up some extra base hits, but this is yet another start that makes me feel really good about Niemann going forward. He has literally reinvented himself from the beginning of this season.
  • After his multi-homer game last night, Evan Longoria seemed to get some respect from the Jays' pitchers; they walked him three times, and twice of those times he came around to score. He's finally hitting a groove, posting a .361 wOBA and .333 ISO during the month of August.
  • B.J. Upton his his 18th home run of the season, driving in three runs in the seventh inning and giving the Rays enough runs to finish off the Jays 6-5. Remember back around the All-Star Break when we were talking about Upton joining the 25-25 Club this season? It's not impossible, but he'd have to get really hot for it to happen at this point.

    Also, Upton got claimed on waivers by a mystery team. Odds are nothing happens now, as the Rays have no real leverage for negotiating and will likely want to wait until the offseason to trade him. But hey, apparently other teams out there are still interested in him.
  • How can I not mention S-Rod? Rodriguez went 3-4 with a double and two runs batted in, proving once again that he's a lefty masher. What else is new?
  • The Rays have won 16 of their last 23 games....and yet they're still seven games out of the Wild Card. Talk about frustrating.
  • My piece in this Sunday's St. Pete Times is all about wOBA. Yup, I went there. I've already discussed FIP earlier this season, so I'm hoping to bust out WAR before the season is over.