Niemann and Zobrist Star as Rays Take Game 1

By Unknown author

In Game One of this ultra-important stretch, the Rays played a virtually flawless game as Jeff Niemann pitched into the eighth inning and the Rays beat the Yankees 5-1.

Some thoughts:

  • Ben Zobrist found out earlier today that he was not elected to the All-Star Game in the final player vote. He lost the honor to Paul Konerko. He took out any disappointment he may have had on the Yankees’ pitchers with a perfect night at the plate. He tripled to lead off the game, homered in the third and added a single and two walks. Ironically, the Major Leagues leader in doubles was only a double away from the cycle.
  • The Rays missed some chances early, but more importantly, they were able to turn over their lineup. In particular, John Jaso had two really long at bats that turned into walks against Colon. The Rays did a really nice job of working the count against Colon and getting his pitch count up.
  • Jeff Niemann’s pitch count was up early also, but he really did some pitching when he had to. Derek Jeter led off the game for the Yankees with a double. He was at third with less than two out, but didn’t score. Alex Rodriguez was up in a key spot, but Niemann set him up perfectly with a fastball up and in that A-Rod swung through and then he swung and missed a ball low and away.
  • The Yankees also had runners on second and third with one out in the second and didn’t score. This was Niemann’s biggest start of the year and easily his best. Joe Maddon trusted him to throw 114 pitches and pitch into the eighth. Looks like confidence is growing between manager and player.
  • Jeter collected hit number 2,998. However, he made outs in important spots, including the last out in the game and finished the game one for five. He’ll probably get to 3,000 at some point this weekend. I’ll be going to the game tomorrow and I would like to see it then, as a baseball fan (although I hope the Rays are up big when finally does that hit).

Players of the Game: Ben Zobrist and Jeff Niemann