Baltimore at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay
W: J. Jurrjens (1-1) L: J. Niemann (1-2)
HR: BAL - J. Schoop (1),S. Pearce (5)   TB - None

Orioles 6, Rays 3


PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) - Jeff Niemann thinks people get the wrong idea about the kind of pitcher he is. Because he is a very large man who drew attention in college for throwing mid-90s out of the Rice bullpen, he is often perceived as a power arm forced down a few miles per hour after shoulder surgery.

However, Niemann said that was never him. He believes that even in his college days, he was his most effective sitting in the low 90s and high 80s on the radar gun.

With four years of major league service time on his baseball card, Niemann knows when he's at his best and when he isn't. That's why he wasn't overly concerned when he gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings in the Tampa Bay Rays' 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

For Niemann, it's about the process and not the immediate results.

"Honestly, that's the best I've felt all spring, the best I've thrown the ball," said Niemann, competing with Roberto Hernandez to claim the Rays' fifth starter spot. "I just made a couple of bad pitches, and the homer is what really upset me."

The homer he was referring to was a two-run shot by Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop, who went 3 for 4 with three RBIs in his first start since returning from playing for the Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic. One of the best middle infield prospects in baseball, Schoop doesn't figure to earn a spot with Baltimore on opening day, but he is the kind of player that the Orioles plan to build around.

Niemann said his mistake to Schoop was a fastball that didn't get inside enough and got up in the zone too much.

"I felt like I finally had some life behind the ball as it was coming out and the confidence just kind of kept growing as the game went on," said the Rays' veteran.

Niemann's four-seam fastball has become a cutter, and his two-seamer is a regular piece of his game-plan.

"Nothing I throw is straight anymore," he added. "It's just how we evolve in this league. You have to constantly find a new way to get guys out. As much info as we have on them, they have the same info on us."

Neimann's counterpart, Steve Johnson, is also looking for a role in the Orioles' rotation. He allowed three runs on two hits and three walks, most of which came in the three-run third inning, that culminated in a bases clearing double from Evan Longoria.

"Any time you throw that many pitches in an inning, you start to kind of tire," Johnson said. "It's just really frustrating. I was cruising, I felt good and it just didn't work out that inning."

NOTES: Orioles RF Nick Markakis hit off a batting tee for the first time since he was scratched from a game on March 3. Markakis, who has a small disk herniation in his back, hopes to play next week. ... Baltimore lost RHP Todd Redmond on waivers to Toronto. ... LHP Wei-Yin Chen will pitch for the Orioles on Saturday against Philadelphia RHP Aaron Cook. Members of the Rays organization, including Joe Maddon, David Price and Ben Zobrist were treated to an advanced showing of "42" at a local mall Thursday night. Minor leagues coaches, players and scouts were also invited to attend the motion picture based on the life of Jackie Robinson. . Steve Pearce hit his fifth homer of the spring for Baltimore.

Copyright 2017 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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Players of the Game

J. Schoop
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
Tampa Bay

E. Longoria
AB 3
R 0
H 1
HR 0

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February 24, 2017
2017 AL East Preview: Baltimore Orioles (2:25)
Baltimore Orioles
Alexi Casilla, 2B4010022 .244
    Luis Martinez, C1000000 .000
Trayvon Robinson, LF3020000 .317
    Steve Pearce, LF2111000 .375
Ryan Flaherty, 3B3000011 .256
    Yamaico Navarro, 3B2000000 .276
Wilson Betemit, 1B3000112 .156
    Travis Ishikawa, 1B1010000 .200
Conor Jackson, DH5000004 .318
Jason Pridie, RF3110010 .306
    Russ Canzler, RF1010000 .258
Taylor Teagarden, C3020000 .300
    Lew Ford, PR-CF1100002 .438
Chris Dickerson, CF3110002 .313
    Buck Britton, 2B1010000 .300
Jonathan Schoop, SS4233001 .667
2B - Trayvon Robinson (4, Niemann), Jason Pridie (3, Niemann), Chris Dickerson (2, Niemann)
HR - Steve Pearce (5, Ramos), Jonathan Schoop (1, Niemann)
RBI - Steve Pearce (13), Jonathan Schoop 3 (4)
2-OUT RBI - Jonathan Schoop 2 (2)
SB - Chris Dickerson (2, 2nd base off Niemann/Molina)
Team LOB - 8
DP - B. Britton-Ishikawa
Baltimore Orioles
Steve Johnson 4233320 3.46
Jair Jurrjens (W,1-1) 5200030 4.61
Pitches-Strikes - Steve Johnson 30-18, Jair Jurrjens 23-22
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Steve Johnson 4-6, Jair Jurrjens 6-5
Batters Faced - Steve Johnson 17, Jair Jurrjens 16
Tampa Bay Rays
Sean Rodriguez, 2B3100110 .178
    Robby Price, 2B0000000 .000
Mike Fontenot, LF2100100 .179
    Rich Thompson, LF1010000 .263
Evan Longoria, 3B3013010 .389
    Shawn O'Malley, SS1000001 .308
Leslie Anderson, RF3000001 .404
    Riccio Torrez, 3B1000000 .000
Yunel Escobar, SS3000000 .225
    Jake Depew, C10100001.000
James Loney, 1B3000010 .250
    Vince Belnome, 1B1000001 .000
Jose Molina, C2010000 .250
    Drew Vettleson, RF1000000 .000
Jack Cust, DH3000021 .174
Jason Bourgeois, CF2100100 .276
2B - Evan Longoria (7, S. Johnson)
RBI - Evan Longoria 3 (10)
2-OUT RBI - Evan Longoria 3 (8)
SB - Rich Thompson (2, 2nd base off Jurrjens/Martinez)
Team LOB - 3
Outfield Assists - Drew Vettleson 1
DP - S. Rodriguez-Escobar-Loney, O'Malley-Belnome
E - Sean Rodriguez (1, Throwing), Riccio Torrez (1, Misplayed grounder)
Tampa Bay Rays
Jeff Niemann (L,1-2) 61055151 3.86
Cesar Ramos 1211001 3.00
Kyle Farnsworth 1100000 0.00
Brandon Gomes 1100000 2.00
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Niemann 43-39, Cesar Ramos 7-6, Kyle Farnsworth 3-3, Brandon Gomes 4-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Niemann 6-6, Cesar Ramos 2-2, Kyle Farnsworth 1-1, Brandon Gomes 1-2
Batters Faced - Jeff Niemann 28, Cesar Ramos 6, Kyle Farnsworth 3, Brandon Gomes 4
Game Information
Attendance - 3872
Game Time - 2:30
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Will Little, First Base - David Soucy, Second Base - Chad Fairchild, Third Base - David Rackley