Nieman Was Dealin’; Rays Were Stealin’

This game was OVER.

Until it wasn’t.

Two nights in a row Bobby Jenks let the Rays have hope.  That is one night too many.  This team is built for the comeback, and boy did they.

———————————————————–

First, the Lineup

What was Joe Maddon thinking? 

(I KNOW it’s an old picture, but it fits don’t you think?) 

The Rays’ skipper put out a lineup that was missing two of its biggest hitters and filled in with bench players who do not get a whole lot of at bats.

And it worked!

To be honest, the Rays had mustered only 1 run on 4 hits up until the 9th inning.  And those Rays he put into the game were able to go only 1/9, the lone hit being a single. 

But Joe Dillon, Willy Aybar, and Gabe Kapler (LOVE that guy!) were able to help the defense and Jeff Nieman keep the game close until regulars Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and Gabe Gross entered the game in the 9th.

In the 9th, all hell broke loose for the Rays–in a good way. 

———————————————————–

The Fateful 9th Inning

Bobby Jenks entered tonight’s game in the 9th in much the same way he entered last night’s game: he had a 1-run lead, but he was starting the inning fresh and clean.

The Rays entered the 9th inning in the same way too–LOOKING TO WIN THE BALL GAME.

He immediately gave up a rocket to Jason Bartlett

Nice, we have some speed on board.

Jenks then “plunked” Evan Longoria (it grazed his jersey and ended up hitting the umpire with more force than Evan).

Ok, now we’ve got a guy in scoring position.

Ben Zobrist, who was looking to extend his 10-game hitting streak, did just that with a rocket up the middle. 

But since it was a liner Bartlett had to stop to make sure it went through.  He could not get doubled off in the 9th.  So he didn’t score, but

Bags are loaded with Pat “the Bat” Burrell up. 

The fans were busy booing their closer when Burrell walked to force in the game tying run.

A dramatic moment that was lost on nobody sitting on my couch (um, me). 

Carlos Pena entered the game to hit for Willy Aybar and launched what looked like a patented high fly grand slam to left.  Instead, it turned into a sac fly double play (Burrell drew the throw as Longo scored). 

WE HAVE THE LEAD!

CC walked and promptly stole second to put runners at 2nd and 3rd.

That was when Jenks had had enough and ended the inning on a weak Gross groundball.

But the damage was done.

In typical Rays style!

Rays up 3-2.  Good times!

HappyDog.jpg image by sxy2385

JP Howell would enter in the bottom of the 9th to close things out.  He’s not officially the closer, but he has appeared in that capacity 4 of the last 5 games.  What else do we call him?

Our closer entered the game and did what he does best: SHUT.  THEM.  DOWN. 

The White Sox managed only a weak grounder up the middle and that was that.  Howell struck out 2 of the 3 batters he retired, all the while making sure pinch hitter Dwayne Wise wasn’t going to try to steal second. 

The fans booed.

Let ’em.

———————————————————–

Nieman the Dealin’ Demon

How’s that for a nickname? 

Jeff Nieman was amazing tonight.  He went 8 STRONG innings, walking NONE, giving up only 2 runs on 8 hits.  He threw only 100 pitches in this outing and earned his team-leading 9th win. 

This guy is making Andrew Friedman look like a genius for unloading Jason Hammel instead during spring training. 

The tall Texan intimidated batters, blowing them away with his 94+ mph fastball.  They couldn’t catch up to it.

Then he baffled the Sox hitters with his ankle-breaking curve.  Hitters could not figure him out.

Especially Alexei Ramirez and Scott Podsednik, who both struck out twice against the Rays’ 6’10” hurler.

This was an outing that helps guys like Nieman get out of the shadow of the other Rays super-rookie (David Price) and garner some attention for himself for Rookie of the Year honors.

He was that good.

———————————————————–

The Rays entered the game 15-19 against left handed pitching. 

They shouldn’t have won tonight.  Not with their lineup being dominated by Sox Clayton Richard.

They shouldn’t have won tonight.  Not with the dominant Bobby Jenks entering the 9th with a 1-run lead (and boy oh boy was he booed tonight–not too classy Sox fans).

They shouldn’t have won tonight.  Not with two of their best players gettiing most of the night off.

But the Rays DID win. 

It was their best steal of the season.

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28 comments

  1. matttan7

    The Rays are still the same, except that they’re on the winning side. Bobby Jenks can be wild at times, with the Rays scoring two runs off Jenks. Great job by JP Howell to close out the game.

    Matthew T.
    http://matt7.mlblogs.com/

  2. thepitchersduel

    Man oh man, Jeff Niemann, this guy is for real, he has quickly made himself a man nobody wants to face. Nice win for the Rays, it’s good to come back.

    Oh yea, it’s also good to watch Jayson Werth crank a 3 run walk off home run in the 13th inning off of Jeff Samardzija, just saying, great pitching by Harden though, Blanton too.

    http://thepitchersduel.mlblogs.com/

  3. thepitchersduel

    Man oh man, Jeff Niemann, this guy is for real, he has quickly made himself a man nobody wants to face. Nice win for the Rays, it’s good to come back.

    Oh yea, it’s also good to watch Jayson Werth crank a 3 run walk off home run in the 13th inning off of Jeff Samardzija, just saying, great pitching by Harden though, Blanton too.

    http://thepitchersduel.mlblogs.com/

  4. raysfanboy

    Matt–Man, you are right about Jenks. Two nights in a row he is wild. He’s walking guys, hitting guys, getting hit by guys. I’m not complaining, though. I guess he’s not as dominant as I thought he was.

    Duel–That’s how it ended!? Oh man! The Cubs can’t catch a break! I’m a big Samardzija fan too. That stinks. Congrats to you though…

  5. lilmatt

    That game made me sick. I can’t believe we blew Richard’s great effort. Bobby needs to be much better if the White Sox are going to contend this season. Congratz to your Rays. Jeff Neimann was great too. We will see how we do sending a rookie to the mound tonight. This could be ugly for the Sox.
    http://giftofgod80.mlblogs.com/

  6. Txbaseballfan

    Nice win for the Rays! We’re trying to help you out in the division, beating the Ded Sox (yes I meant to type that) the 1st two games of a 3-game series. I don’t like the 2 Sox teams either. Although, I would like to see Fenway someday.
    Brian
    http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

  7. devilabrit

    Hell of a 9th inning, kept flipping to the Rays game between innings, 1 minute it’s 1-2 next time it’s 3-2, I missed the runs…. but glad you guys got Jenks this time…. way too nail bitting these 9th innings….
    Outside the Phillies Looking In
    http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

  8. jewsonfirst and http://brooksrobinsonrules.mlblogs.com/

    Love the pictures!! I’ll take credit for finding the Maddon picture though!

    Nieman is much better than I thought he was!

    Ken

  9. Jonestein

    LOL, love the stolen letters pic, reminds me of this BBQ joint I worked at when I was 15. Some clown(s) would rearrange the letters on our sign in the middle of the night to spell out something dirty. The owners used to get hella-p!ssed, but me, being 15 at the time, would laugh my a$s off!
    Also, I incorporated your Wrigley trough experience into my “Curve Appeal” post’s “Wrigley-from-afar 12-Step Program” footnote, thanks for the tip!
    –Jonestein
    http://jonestein.mlblogs.com/

  10. juliasrants

    You’ve got to LOVE Gabe Kaplar! We did here in Boston! And yes, your Rays keep rolling while my Red Sox are in a rut. But that’s what the All-Star break does – teams that were hot go cold and those that were cool heat up after the rest. Love the dog!

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

  11. crazy19canuck

    If we win all the games in this way, we’ll need the offseason to rebuild our nervous systems!
    BUT WE WON!!!! YAY!!
    Ginny

  12. JD

    hey great blog thank God the ball is circular and it rolls for both teams and gave the rays a chance to comeback …. you know I have always kind of been rooting for the Rays just because I hate the damn Yankees and the fricking Red Sox soooo GO RAYS!!

  13. indianslove

    Congrats to the Rays! That was very awesome how they didn’t give up. Seems like the Tribe & Rays had something in common yesterday! & Yeah, Choo..I really dont want him to go anywhere! I would be so worried. I’m actually pulling for the Rays to close some gaps. Hahha 🙂
    http://tribechick.mlblogs.com/ -TC

  14. Jane Heller

    The Rays just keep coming. I can hear their footsteps in the dead of night. Kind of dreading the series at the Trop, but my guys are doing OK too so it should be a great series. What’s up with Jenks’ pink beard? Just wondering.

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

  15. diamondgirl55

    Wow, how about them Rays huh? I just LOVE you guys!!! Definitely one of my favorite teams, hands down. And that picture of Jenks is….gross. Did he really dye that thing pink? That’s my favorite color but it shouldn’t be his! Haha! :]
    Oh I know, my “future husband” list is pretty long but my A-group members are definitely Wright, Meche and Longoria. The others are all B-class, just in case those 3 don’t work out. Don’t worry though, I’m not one of those stalker girls…they’re just the bonus to everything great about baseball! :]
    xoxo http://diamondgirl55.mlblogs.com

  16. Kylie

    Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist. The Terrific Two.
    I would boo my closer if he did that. Well, maybe not Huston. ‘Cause I love him. But I know I booed Manny Corpas and Brian Fuentes on the several occasions when they blew saves.
    Um, Bobby. The Colonel look doesn’t work if it’s pink.
    Jason Hammel’s done wonders for us, though he had SERIOUS control issues on Saturday. I mean, his best start all year (I think five innings of no-no?) was a loss because the anemic offense couldn’t catch up to his fantastic pitching.
    ♥ Kylie — http://kylie.mlblogs.com

  17. heartruss

    Congratulations to the Rays on the win.
    Gabe Kapler is a great defensive player. His catch of Russell Martin’s homerun ball in the stands was the MLB.com play of the year last season. I happened to be right by him when he fell into the stands so I know how good he is.
    http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

  18. chisoxchatter

    Alright, you guys got us back, and are catching a break on missing Danks tonight (rookie is making his first start in his place), but we’ll see how things turn out.

    Weather looks crummy tonight, not sure if rain will effect the game

    The fans had every right to be upset imo. Jenks has been shaky for more than a couple outings now. I forgot the exact stat, but in recent outings his ERA is over 8. Like I said in my blog, it’s one thing to go at a hitter and get beat, it’s another to walk guys. The Sox need more consistency for a guy looking to be paid big money soon, and the fact that he did that while blowing one of Clayton Richard’s rarest games in what was going to be an unlikely win = A lot of upset fans

    http://chisoxchatter.mlblogs.com

  19. raysfanboy

    Gift–Richards did pitch well. Last night was one of the better pitched games on both sides that I’ve seen in a while. Nieman is really coming into his own. I am hoping to see the Rays pick up a “fortunate” win now that Danks is not going, but nothing is for sure.

    Lori–Thanks for the show of support! No socks anymore!

    Michael–It was a great win, I agree.

    TX–I’d love to go to Fenway someday. It is a great looking old ballpark. Lots of respect for that. Now the team….well, I need ’em to lose so we can get one of the top two spots in our division so whatever has to happen, so be it.

    Outside–The pace of the game overall was very fast! They were into the 9th inning within 2 hours. Wow. But obviously, things slowed down from there. The Rays did score quickly, though.

    Ken–Nieman is better than many of thought he was! I was not sold on him going into this year. But 9 wins ain’t no lie. And his game last night was far from a fluke.

    Jonestein–Hilarious! I worked at a place like that too, but the kids just stole the letters straight up. No fiddling around. Glad to help with the Wrigley thing. I’ve been there enough that I can give you all the gory details!

    Ginny–I don’t know how many more of those I can handle. We’ve had alot of them the last week or so.

    JD–I appreciate the support! Send those bad vibest to Boston and NYC! Send ’em! We’ll all be right with you!

  20. raysfanboy

    TC–It would be nice to see Choo stay in MLB and the Rays to close the gap. Alas, tonight only one of those happened.

    Jane–These guys won’t go away, I’m just afraid that they might fall just a little too far down inthe next week or so.

    Diamondgirl–I’m proud that one of our Rays made the list. I laugh, though, at how obscure your reference to Gil Meche is! I guess the guy’s got something going on…

    Kylie–I know about anemic offenses not supporting pitching. James Shields got a dose of that tonight.

    Cat–I think I remember that catch. Kap will do just about anything to win. That’s why I love the guy!

    Ginny–Don’t have tix right now, but I might get some with a friend.

    Gonzo–The hallmark of a good team is being able to come back. However, the hallmark of a REALLY good team is not having to in the first place. The Rays are just a good team. The Pads will be soon.

    Chisox–I think i would have liked to have seen how it would have turned out against Danks! I’m tired of losing to these rookies!

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