April 16, 2011
v. Minnesota Twins
Attendance: 16, 428
W: Juan Cruz (1-0) 5.06 ERA
L: Joe Nathan (0-1) 8.44 ERA
This was a big start for Jeff Niemann, the only Rays starter who hasn’t pitched even moderately well so far this year. That being said, win or lose, this game was encouraging because Niemann was much improved over his first two starts. In seven innings, he gave up three runs, all single tallies in the second, third and fifth. The Rays also got a run in the third, but otherwise, Twins’ start Jeff Baker was also very good over seven innings.
The Twins’ closer combination failed to work yet again against the Rays. Matt Capps allowed a run in the eighth on a Matt Joyce RBI single. Joe Nathan came in the ninth to pick up the save, but Ben Zobrist tied the game immediately with a lead off homer, a moonshot just fair down the right field line. After the home run, B.J. Upton and Casey Kotchman walked. John Jaso came up in a bunt situation. He attempted a bunt on the first pitch, a ball, but was swinging away on the second pitch and popped out. (If there is ever a situation in which it should be used, it’s then and he should have continued to try and move the runners along). One out later, Sam Fuld walked against Jose Mijares to load the bases, bringing up Johnny Damon. Of course, he got the game winner, a line drive down the right field line.
This is the fifth straight game that Damon has gotten the game winner:
Monday: Homered in the first to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. They never lost the lead en route to a 16-5 win.
Tuesday: Singled up the middle in the fifth to give the Rays a 3-1 lead. They won 3-2.
Thursday: Hit a walk off homer in the tenth to give the Rays a 4-3 win.
Friday: Drove home two with a single in the sixth to give the Rays a 2-1 lead. They won 5-2.
Tonight: Walk off single in the ninth to give the Rays a 4-3 win.
Player of the Game: Jeff Niemann. First solid start of the year which kept the Rays in the game and allowed them to come back.
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