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Tampa Bay at Toronto

    Scoreboard
    Tampa Bay0
    Toronto «5

    Blue Jays 5, Rays 0

    •  

    DUNEDIN, FLA. (AP) - Jeff Niemann was working on his slider, part of a repertoire that he hopes will land him one of the two remaining spots in Tampa Bay's starting rotation. For three innings Friday he was satisfied things were going well.

    Then Toronto, which had pushed across single runs in the second and third innings, erupted for five hits and two runs on Niemann's first eight pitches of the fourth en route to a 5-0 victory.

    "I felt really good," Niemann said. "You didn't exactly see the results towards the end ... but everything felt really great early on, and today was really about getting the pitch count up. That was the biggest thing ... and why I went out there for the fourth."

    "The slider, I threw close to 10. Usually it's less than five in a full game. I'm trying to move it around to righties and lefties and see what I can do with it. I think we had a few strikeouts with it today, so it's coming along," he said.

    Ricky Romero, the Blue Jays' opening day pitcher, pitched four hitless innings and struck out four. Travis Snider, competing with Eric Thames for the job in left field, Toronto's only remaining undecided position, hit his fourth spring home run.

    "I thought Jeff overall had good stuff," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He just ran out of gas. He gave up four hits to that point, then all off a sudden everything came up in the strike zone. He got hit pretty well."

    "It's hard to gauge anything right now. There are so many guys that aren't playing and the guys that are playing are not swinging the bats well," he said. "It's frustrating because the things we want to work on we haven't a chance to work on - but you can't get frustrated in spring training."

    Niemann, Wade Davis and Matt Moore are in competition for the two remaining starting positions behind James Shields, David Price and Jeremy Hellickson. Maddon said he'll wait "maybe a week or ten days down the road, and try to make the right decision."

    J.P. Arencibia singled home a run in the second inning, Jose Bautista hit a sacrifice fly in the third, then successive singles by Jonathan Diaz on a bunt, Colby Rasmus, Arencibia and Snider chased Niemann.

    The Rays didn't get their first hit until Brandon Guyer bunted toward third leading off the sixth against Chad Jenkins.

    Snider homered off Jhonny Nunez in the sixth.

    "I think in (Snider's) final at-bat against Nunez, who has above-average velocity, you saw him foul a ball off when he was behind and the very next pitch he was able to make an adjustment on the same type of pitch and hit the ball out of the ballpark," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "A year ago that might not have readily happened but it's very encouraging to see."

    NOTES: Toronto 3B Brett Lawrie left early as a precaution because of tightness in his groin. ... The Rays wore yellow "Fortune Favors the Bold" T-shirts to commemorate shaving their head in a fundraiser for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Maddon was joined by 36 players and coaches and 34 team executives and staff, including principal owner Stuart Sternberg. ... Toronto's unbeaten streak reached 12 games. ... Tampa Bay will start opening day pitcher James Shields against Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens Saturday at Bradenton. The Rays have split-squad games, starting Brandon Morrow against the Phillies' Vance Worley and Drew Hutchison against the Braves' Brandon Beachy.

     
    Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
     
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    Tampa Bay Rays
    HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
    Desmond Jennings, LF1000202 .353
        Matt Mangini, 3B-1B1000011 .308
    Sean Rodriguez, SS3000034 .308
        Isaias Velasquez, LF1000000 .000
    Evan Longoria, 3B3000004 .000
        Cody Rogers, CF1000010 .000
    Ben Zobrist, 2B3000021 .211
        Will Rhymes, 2B1000000 .111
    Jose Molina, C2000000 .188
        Stephen Vogt, C1000000 .345
    Elliot Johnson, CF2000000 .160
        Tim Beckham, SS1000000 .043
    Jose Lobaton, DH3000010 .211
    Brandon Guyer, RF2010010 .167
        Jeff Salazar, RF1000000 .278
    Chris Gimenez, 1B3010001 .250
        Robi Estrada, 3B0000000 .000
    Totals2902029  
    Batting
    SB - Desmond Jennings (2, 2nd base off R. Romero/Arencibia), Jeff Salazar (1, 2nd base off Frasor/Gomes)
    Team LOB - 4
    Fielding
    Outfield Assists - Elliot Johnson 1
    E - Robi Estrada (1, Misplayed grounder), Evan Longoria (2, Throwing)
    Tampa Bay Rays
    PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
    Jeff Niemann (L,0-2) 3.1844030 4.32
    Dane De La Rosa 1.2100140 0.00
    Jhonny Nunez 1111001 8.31
    Matt Bush 1000000 0.00
    Marquis Fleming 1100010 2.25
    Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Niemann 25-24, Dane De La Rosa 18-14, Jhonny Nunez 7-6, Matt Bush 3-3, Marquis Fleming 7-7
    Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Niemann 5-2, Jhonny Nunez 2-1, Marquis Fleming 3-0
    Batters Faced - Jeff Niemann 18, Dane De La Rosa 7, Jhonny Nunez 4, Matt Bush 3, Marquis Fleming 5
    Toronto Blue Jays
    HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
    Yunel Escobar, SS3120000 .250
        Luis Valbuena, SS2000002 .235
    Kelly Johnson, 2B3000023 .217
        Omar Vizquel, 2B1000000 .357
    Jose Bautista, RF2011012 .368
        Ben Francisco, RF1000000 .176
    Adam Lind, 1B3000011 .286
        Michael McDade, 1B1000000 .091
    Edwin Encarnacion, DH3000011 .296
       a- David Cooper, PH-DH1000000 .292
    Brett Lawrie, 3B1110000 .609
        Jonathan Diaz, 3B2110100 .474
    Colby Rasmus, CF3110012 .227
        Mike McCoy, CF1000000 .235
    J.P. Arencibia, C3022000 .227
        Yan Gomes, C1010000 .444
    Travis Snider, LF3121011 .333
        Jacob Marisnick, LF1000012 .250
    Totals35511418  
    a-fouled out for Encarnacion in the 7th
    Batting
    2B - Yunel Escobar (2, Niemann)
    HR - Travis Snider (4, Nunez)
    SF - Jose Bautista (1)
    RBI - Jose Bautista (5), J.P. Arencibia 2 (7), Travis Snider (13)
    2-OUT RBI - J.P. Arencibia (3)
    SB - Brett Lawrie (5, 2nd base off Niemann/Molina)
    Team LOB - 8
    Fielding
    DP - Escobar-Lind
    E - Omar Vizquel (2, Misplayed grounder)
    Toronto Blue Jays
    PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
    Ricky Romero (W,1-0) 4000240 0.00
    Chad Jenkins (H,1) 3200030 1.13
    Jason Frasor (H,4) 1000010 5.40
    Andrew Carpenter 1000010 2.25
    Pitches-Strikes - Ricky Romero 29-21, Chad Jenkins 17-17, Jason Frasor 7-7, Andrew Carpenter 5-5
    Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ricky Romero 5-2, Chad Jenkins 2-4, Jason Frasor 2-1, Andrew Carpenter 1-1
    Batters Faced - Ricky Romero 13, Chad Jenkins 11, Jason Frasor 4, Andrew Carpenter 3
    Game Information
    Attendance - 5541
    Game Time - 2:34
    Temperature - 75
    Umpires - Home - Victor Carapazza, First Base - UMP Nonindividual, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Chris Ward