Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jeff Niemann's struggles continue as Tampa Bay Rays fall 9-2 to Chicago White Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — After another early exit by right-hander Jeff Niemann on Thursday night, both he and manager Joe Maddon insisted it won't be much longer before he returns to his regular form.

"I think he's on the verge," Maddon said. "He's not far, in spite of what you may think."

Niemann says nothing is physically or mechanically wrong, but he's lacking in location and luck, which was evident in the Rays' 9-2 loss to the White Sox in front of 16,751 at Tropicana Field. It was the most runs Tampa Bay (9-10) has given up all season — equaling the number they had surrendered the past five games combined and its most lopsided loss.

But while the Rays still felt good in wrapping up a successful 6-2 homestand, getting them back in the American League East race after a 1-8 start, they'll likely feel a lot better when Niemann is back to his old self.

Niemann, who gave up six runs (five earned) and six hits (along with two hit batters) over 42/3 innings, has allowed five or more runs in seven of his past 11 starts, but he said "it's just a matter of time before things start going my way."

"I'm not discouraged by anything, I think he's going to be fine," Maddon said. "With him it's about sharpness, command overall with his pitches, and it's just not there yet. …

"They just didn't pummel him. He wasn't awful by any means."

However, Niemann wasn't the only Ray off his game.

Tampa Bay's typically sparkling defense let down in the first inning, when third baseman Felipe Lopez made a throwing error to first after bare-handing a Juan Pierre bunt, allowing the White Sox's leadoff man to race to third (and eventually score).

There was the Rays' typically sharp bullpen, which allowed three runs, ending an eight-game streak of not allowing an earned run.

Shortstop Reid Brignac was picked off first base, and the Rays stranded many others, going 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, including John Jaso hitting into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded in the second.

The only thing typical of the Rays was leftfielder Sam Fuld. He continued his impressive play by making another highlight-reel catch in the third, running into the wall in foul territory, nearly flipping over it.

"Once again, Sammy on the spot," Maddon said.

Fuld also had two hits, including a two-run single in the sixth for the Rays' offensive output.

Niemann, who has received just four runs of support in four outings, saw it get away from him in a four-run third inning, in which he threw 37 of his 89 pitches, allowing four hits.

"I made a lot of good pitches," Niemann said, "it's just right now, I'm going through a point in time where every mistake I make gets hit, and even the good pitches I make get hit."

Jeff Niemann's struggles continue as Tampa Bay Rays fall 9-2 to Chicago White Sox 04/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 22, 2011 8:49am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season

    College

    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  2. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pittsburgh stadium

    Blogs

    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32 (left), was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with boss Larry McCabe when he saw three men …

  3. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH

    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    Corey Dickerson is doing everything he can to garner All-Star votes heading into tonight's voting cutoff, going into play Wednesday leading the AL with 101 hits and rapping two more his first two times up, and scoring two more runs.

  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company

    College

    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.