I really thought I would be writing about a win tonight as Jennings indeed sparked the Rays offense and Niemann was pretty good, but alas, the night was tarnished with yet another Rays loss.
In the first inning against LHP Jeff Francis, Jennings tripled. Johnny Damon struck out but then Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria hit back-to-back singles. Sean Rodriguez walked, loading the bases for Casey Kotchman who grounded out to end the inning.
The Rays desperately needed a perfect inning to keep the momentum and Niemann delivered, striking out the side. Elliott Johnson hit a triple in the top of the second and Jennings came through again, this time with an RBI to give the Rays a 2-0 lead. Jennings received an error in the bottom of the third as Alex Gordon reached, but he would not score.
The Rays had opportunities in the fourth but Johnson hit into a one-four-three double play. Jennings was intentionally walked and Damon grounded out to end the inning.
The Royals tied it in the fourth after an error by Longoria and a wild pitch set things up for a double by Mike Moustakas to tie it. The Rays would answer back immediately when Ben Zobrist hit his career high thirtieth double and Longoria doubled him in.
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the game came in the sixth when Desmond Jennings walked and Damon sent him home with a double, scoring Jennings all the way from first base. The Royals answered again though, cutting the lead to one, which Joel Peralta and J.P. Howell held for Kyle Farnsworth to save in the bottom of the ninth.
With two outs, Alex Gordon drove in Alcides Escobar to send the game to extras. The Rays loaded the bases with nobody out in the tenth and sent no one home. Brandon Gomes was on to pitch. Billy Butler reached and Mike Aviles came on to pinch run. Eric Hosmer hit a walk-off double. Game over.
Technically the game should have been over in the ninth but pick off plays did not go Farnsworth’s way. However the rays had ample opportunities to add several insurance runs in this game and help their pitchers and they didn’t do it. A disgusting loss is all I can say.
It was exciting to have Desmond Jennings on the team. If only he had come sooner, but the Rays organization knows how to slowly grow a major leaguer, and it will pay off for them in the long run, hopefully.