Niemann arms Rays in win over future stars

Niemann arms Rays in win over future stars

Niemann arms Rays in win over future stars
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jeff Niemann, who earned the fifth spot in the Rays' starting rotation this spring, pitched 6 1/3 innings of three-hit ball on Wednesday, as the Rays warmed up for Friday's Opening Day encounter with the Yankees with a 2-1 win over the Future Rays, a team composed mostly of Minor League prospects, at Tropicana Field.

Matt Moore started for the Future Rays and held his big league teammates to seven hits and two runs over seven innings, striking out six.

"I thought Jeff and Matt were both very strong," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "You would expect a low-scoring game when those two guys pitch."

Most of the players on the Future Rays team were from the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs and Maddon didn't want to risk getting any of his Major Leaguers accidentally hit by a pitch. So, Moore started on the mound for the Future Rays, and was followed by the big league Rays' Wade Davis.

In addition, Luke Scott was the Future Rays' designated hitter so that he could bat against Niemann and Jose Lobaton started behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, just called up from Durham, began the game in left field for the Future Rays, then changed jerseys and played for the Major Leaguers.

Scott, who led off each of the first five innings in the informal simulated game format, went 1-for-5.

Up next: James Shields will make his fourth Opening Day start for the Rays on Friday at 3:10 p.m. ET, extending his own club record. CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees. In Shields' last five home starts against the Yankees he is 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA. The Rays are 2-1 when Shields starts the opening game of the season. Shields pitched seven or more innings in each of his last 11 starts last season -- a club record and the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.

Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.