Make us your home page

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 rookie Jeff Niemann pitches well in loss

TORONTO — The Rays hitters couldn't do much in Sunday's 5-1 loss against Toronto's Brett Cecil, the latest in a string of young lefties who have stymied them.

And there wasn't much RHP Jeff Niemann could do to help.

The rookie lost for the first time since May 28, dropping to 9-5 with a 3.81 ERA, but still gave the Rays a solid start. He worked into the seventh on a day the bullpen was thin and made only one real mistake, a slider that didn't slide and Scott Rolen turned into a three-run homer.

"I was really pleased with Niemann once again," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's starting to really look like a major-league pitcher. Very repetitious delivery, in a good way. Good breaking ball again. He just made a mistake. Otherwise, he might have pitched a complete game again."

Niemann knew innings were important.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "We attacked the strike zone the best we could. We just made a few mistakes, and they took advantage of them."

NOTHING DOING: The Rays have struggled when facing pitchers for the first time, and it happened again as they got just four hits off Cecil and five for the day.

Their only run came on Carl Crawford's 10th homer, and they had only two rallies, with DH Pat Burrell killing both.

"Pretty much, that was it," Maddon said.

Burrell grounded to the mound with two on to end the first and took a called third strike with two on to end the seventh.

"He got ahead right away and threw a pretty good breaking ball, and then he nailed a pitch inside on me there. I just couldn't get to it,'' Burrell said. "What you're trying to do is get a hit. Get a good ball to hit and put a good swing on it, which I did neither of."

CROWD CONTROL: With advance sales for the Yankees games apparently not going all that well — the Rays offering the polite, "tickets are available in all price categories" — Maddon and RHP James Shields again appealed to fans to come out and support the team.

"We're in contention, and we're going to need their help," Shields said.

"I think we thrive off of having the big crowds. If they can come out and cheer us on, that would be great."

Maddon said the impact of a full, loud, pro-Rays Trop is large.

"I'd like to believe that we've flipped the fan base over in our area and now they are truly Rays fans," he said. "I know we're still infiltrated by the enemy on occasion. But having gone to the World Series last year, I'd like to believe that the people want to come out there and help us get back to it."

ROSTER REPORT: LHP Brian Shouse is set to be reinstated from the disabled list today. Sending RHP Dale Thayer back to Triple-A Durham seems the obvious move to make room, but the Rays held off Sunday. One possibility is they decide to expand the bullpen to eight, at least temporarily, and instead drop rarely used INF Joe Dillon.

MISCELLANY: At 6-4, the Rays had their second winning road trip of the season. … The Rays joined the 1986 Indians as the only teams in the past 40 years to win five games in a nine-day period when trailing in the eighth or later.

Tampa Bay Rays rookie Jeff Niemann pitches well in loss 07/26/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 27, 2009 7:58am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations


    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.


    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox


    They narrowly missed the playoffs by thismuch.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Yankees, in a pretty big series


    The Rays open a challenging road trip tonight in New York, the first of four games against the wild-card leading Yankees.

    Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.
  4. Bucs' O.J. Howard says in NFL, 'it's an SEC game every day'


    Bucs rookie O.J. Howard hasn't played in an NFL game yet, but he already appreciates the grind of an NFL season -- every week can be a loss, perhaps more so than in college football, where Alabama went 12-0 in nonconference, non-bowl games in his three years there.

    Bucs rookie O.J. Howard, shown playing for Alabama in the national championship game in Tampa in January, says every game in the NFL is an SEC game, with no letdowns.
  5. Bucs' Mike Evans wants his 'A' game in 4th NFL season


    Bucs receiver Mike Evans has been in the NFL for three seasons, and in two of them, he's had 12 touchdown catches, setting and then matching his own team record. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season, but if you ask him to grade those three years, he doesn't see an "A" product just yet.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans, shown during an OTA workout last month, said he wouldn't give himself an "A" for any of his first three NFL seasons, despite going to the Pro Bowl and twice catching 12 touchdown passes in a season.