Which team has the tougher turnaround after a game like last night’s? Was it the Royals who suffered one of the most crushing defeats a team can go through or the Rays who might rather be celebrating instead of getting some rest for a noon game the next day.
The Rays were better prepared today as they finished off a four game sweep of the Royals, winning 4-1.
Jeff Niemann, who was the most rested Ray on the field, continued his string of very good outings, although at times he struggled mightily. He allowed a run in the first on two singles and an RBI groundout by Eric Hosmer. He allowed another two singles in the second, but nothing came of that. He then proceeded to retired the next 10 Royals in a row. In the sixth, he danced through the raindrops again when he allowed three straight singles with two out. In fairness to Jeff, Elliot Johnson probably should have bailed him out of the inning, but the shortstop’s indecision on where to throw the ball cost Niemann the third out. Niemann did get out of the inning by striking out Alex Gordon. It was a very strange outing for the tall right-hander. He gave up nine hits (all singles) two walks and only struck out two. Most important was the fact that he only allowed one run despite the trouble.
Ben Zobrist provided enough offense to give the Rays the win today. In the third, Johnny Damon and Evan Longoria reached with two out and Zobrist brought both of them home with a triple into the triangle in center field. He later added a double and a run in the eighth.
Kyle Farnsworth picked up save number 21 today, but the rest of the bullpen deserved credit, especially Joel Peralta. Peralta is one of those relievers I just hate to watch because of his slow, plotting way on the mound and his ability to create jams, but most of the time he manages to wiggle his way out of them. Today, he came into the seventh with two men on and one out and got a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play. He got another, more conventional double play in the eighth.
Players of the Game: Zobrist was great, but I have to also include Peralta for getting five very important outs.