Niemann or He-Man?

Ian HunterCorrespondent IJune 30, 2009

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Pitcher Jeff Niemann #34 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Boston Red Sox during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Charlotte Sports Park on February 27, 2009 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

At 6’9”, 280 pounds, Jeff Niemann could almost be mistaken as an offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As he took up almost one-third of my television screen, imagine what it was like for the Blue Jays to have to face a pitcher who towered close to seven feet. It was probably the equivalent of having He-Man standing at the top of Castle Greyskull and hurling fastballs.

The Blue Jays had no answer for Niemann, who pitched seven strong innings and only gave up four hits in total. He didn’t even run into trouble until the seventh inning when Rod Barajas hit an RBI single to deep right field.

Although Roy Halladay was pegged with the loss, I would say his return from the disabled list was a very valiant effort. You can’t be disappointed Doc gave up two runs to a very aggressive Tampa Bay Rays team. There was just one mistake by Halladay—a costly two-run home run to Carl Crawford.

I think Tao put it best when he said "lifeless" was the best way to summarize the performance by the Blue Jays. You could also really see the differing managerial styles between Joe Maddon and Cito Gaston. While Gaston plays a very laid back, "hope for something happen" kind of game, Maddon goes out there and encourages his players to be very aggressive and take bases at all costs. Aside from Gross being thrown out twice, for the most part that strategy worked for Maddon and the Rays last night.