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)

Tampa Bay Rays' Jeff Niemann looks like his old self

ST. PETERSBURG — Right-hander Jeff Niemann said the Rays wild, 1-0, 16-inning loss to the Red Sox Sunday was "probably the best game I've ever been a part of."

He also acknowledged it might have been the best performance of his big-league career.

Niemann was spectacular, throwing eight shutout innings against Boston, allowing two hits and striking out a career-high 10, matching Red Sox All-Star Josh Beckett pitch-for-pitch in an impressive duel.

"Jeff Niemann was outstanding," Maddon said.

Maddon has said Niemann has recently looked more like the pitcher who was one of the Rays most consistent starter before getting hurt late last season.

Niemann struggled after going on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain last August, and then again earlier this year before suffering a lower back strain.

But after returning from the DL in June, he's gone 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA, including allowing two earned runs over his past 211/3 innings.

Niemann, coming off a win over the Yankees (71/3 innings, one run), picked up where he left off, retiring nine of the first 10 batters (five via strikeout). He commanded his fastball and mixed in his array of offspeed pitches.

"The curve was good, the split was pretty good," Niemann said. "The fastball command helped me get to those points.,"

The only problem? Beckett was even better, allowing one hit over eight shutout innings, including retiring 19 straight.

Niemann stayed strong until the end, battling Jacoby Ellsbury in an eight-pitch at-bat before striking him out to end the eighth and drawing a standing ovation. His 118 pitches tied a career-high, but Maddon wanted to keep him in.

"I left him out there because I thought he still had really good stuff," Maddon said. "I thought he still had a good fastball, had a good breaking ball. When you bring a relief pitcher in, it's because you think the guy coming in has better stuff than the guy that was still out there. I just thought he was that good. I didn't want to take him out."

Tampa Bay Rays' Jeff Niemann looks like his old self 07/18/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 18, 2011 3:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Vernon Hargreaves needs to improve

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs now rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 301 yards per game in their 2-3 start, and coach Dirk Koetter was asked Monday how concerned he is with the play of second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, throwing an incompletion under pressure after replacing injured Jameis Winston against the Cardinals,  would start this Sunday in Buffalo if Winston’s shoulder is still bothering him.
  2. Backhand shot makes Nikita Kucherov's offense even more dangerous

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Nikita Kucherov is on a historic streak, just the fourth player in the last 30 years to score a goal in each of his first six games.

    Nikita Kucherov’s backhand shot adds to his strong scoring.
  3. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe

    College

    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]
  4. Deception key to Nikita Kucherov's hot start

    Blogs

    Nikita Kucherov is on a historic streak, the first player in Lightning history to score a goal in each of the first five games.

    Nikita Kucherov is the first player in Lightning history to score a goal in each of the first five games.
  5. Luke Witkowski living 'lifelong dream' with Red Wings

    Blogs

    Defenseman Luke Witkowski couldn't help but take a peek at the Lightning's morning skate Monday at the brand-new Little Caesar's Arena.

    Luke Witkowski (28) played his first 55 NHL games with the Lightning, until signing a two-year $1.5 million deal with Detroit in the summer.