Jeff Niemann Has Excellent Outing in Rays Loss to Blue Jays

By David Hill

Following the rough start from Roberto Hernandez on Tuesday, Wednesday’s outing from Jeff Niemann was worth paying attention to as he attempted to stake his claim to the final spot in the Rays’ rotation. In his last appearance of the Spring, Niemann made an emphatic statement in his regard.

Niemann dominated the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing only two hits over six shutout innings while recording three strikeouts, leaving with a 1-0 lead. Yunel Escobar plated Sean Rodriguez with an RBI triple in the second, providing the only scoring up to that point. With the way Niemann had pitched, that run appeared as though it may be sufficient.

However, the Blue Jays came back in the eighth inning, roughing up Kirby Yates for six runs, although only two were earned, as an error by Kelly Johnson helped set up the rally. The big blow came off the bat of Colby Rasmus, who drilled a grand slam to brake the game open as the Blue Jays ended up with a 6-1 victory.

Fernando Rodney made his first appearance for the Rays since the WBC, pitching a perfect inning while recording two strikeouts. Ryan Roberts and Escobar each had two hits in the game.