Jeff Niemann had a fine start, lasting into the eighth and allowing only one run. Say what you will about Niemann’s previous struggles, but one thing he has consistently done well is place his curveball. Tonight was no exception, as Niemann used his curve throughout. I can’t explain how the guy can get thrashed about by the Astros, then turns around and runs roughshod through the Yankees for seven-plus innings, but that’s just baseball for you.
Niemann walked two, struck out four, and handed the ball to Juan Cruz in the eighth, who then passed the baton to Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth did what he does best, by killing the Yankees chances of victory.
Entering the game, the starting nine produced by the Rays had a combined 3,009 major league hits. Derek Jeter had 2,997.
The fellow with the most hits in the Rays lineup, B.J. Upton (just over 700), added a homer to his total tonight, as did Ben Zobrist. The latter, who found out that he would not be heading to the All-Star game earlier in the day, also showed off his fielding and baserunning ability throughout the evening.
Regarding Zobrist’s All-Star snub, I wish he were getting recognition, but at the same time, I don’t think Paul Konerko going instead is too big of a deal. FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement metric has the pair nearly two wins apart, however the other metrics—provided by Baseball-Reference and Baseball Prospectus—have Zobrist ahead by 0.5 and 0.3 wins respectively. Is Zobrist having the better season? Probably, but the gap falls within the error bars you’d place on defensive metrics.