Niemann vs. Vanden Hurk

SAN FRANCISCO–Your starters today are righthander Jeff Niemann (Devil Rays) against righthander Rick Vanden Hurk (Marlins).

Vanden Hurk has been up and down with the big league club this season, but is proud to wear the Dutch flag on his chest to represent his home country.

“This is an honor,” Vanden Hurk said. “This is a thrill. The big leagues are the best thing in the world, but this is awesome too. I’m here representing Holland and the Marlins and I know everybody’s watching back home. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

“I’m happy I’m able to represent my country out here.”

As for Niemann, the flamethrowing righthander has put up outstanding numbers at Triple-A Durham this season, going 9-5, 3.75 with 93 strikeouts in 98 innings. But there’s not way he expected to be here. He figured one of the younger guys in the organization–maybe lefthander Jacob McGee or righthander Wade Davis or even righthander Chris Mason–had a better shot of making the U.S. roster.

“I didn’t think I’d be here at all,” Niemann said. “And when they told me I was starting I had to do a double-take. I thought there was an age limit with this deal and thought I surpassed that last year.

“It’™s great to be here and I’™m excited about getting the start. Hopefully I can go out there, have a good inning and put a zero on the board.”