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Game Preview; Saturday (9/10) vs.Toronto

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Toronto (70-70) at Rays (59-83)
6:15; Tropicana Field
FSN Florida

Well, so much for that sweep. If the beginning of football  season  hadn't turned whordes  of fans  away, this game sure did, as the Rays played one of their worst games in recent memory in  a 7-2 loss to Toronto. With the game not being televised and a blowout about to commence, Idecided  to take a break  from  baseball last night and watch "The Living Daylights".So  to be quite honest,  I didn't "see" what really  happened, and as  much as I love listening to Dave and Andy, spending eight innings listening to horrible baseball  wasn't really something I wanted to do. But as any good  investigator would know, you don't actually have to see something to put together asequence of events. In baseball, we  call this the "box score", you may have heard of it. Seth McClung pitched nowhere near as good as  he did last Saturday, going just  two innings, while giving up five runs (three earned) on six hits. Lance Carter did OK in his longest  ever appearence out of the Devil Rays  bullpen,  coming off several starts at  Durham, as  he surrendered the only other runs in 4.2 IP. Joe Beimel and Jesus Colome rounded out the game by  pitching the final 2.1. Toby Hall and Jonny Gomes each had two hits, and Carl Crawford three, but hits were not the problem today. Getting them home was. In typical Devil  Rays fashion, they  scored two runs on ten hits. The Jays were much more effective, 7 on 11, and that  was the difference in the ballgame.

PITCHING MATCHUP:
TOR-RH David Bush (4-8, 4.12)
Rays-Scott Kazmir (8-9, 4.02)

BREAKDOWN: Well, we do have a dandy  pitching matchup today for RaysBaseball at  the Ballpark Day (don't miss it),  as  two hurlers with an  ERA only .10 apart  square off. Going to the mound for the Blue  Jays isrighty David Bush. This is, essentially, a repeat of last  Sunday's p;itching duel,  another great game won by the Rays behind Scott Kazmir's brilliant pitching. In seven innings,  Bush gave up only one earned run on six hits, striking out five and walking one, keeping the D-Rays'  offense at bay, but thanks to the Little League hitters behind him, he suffered the loss in a 1-0 Rays win. That was his first start vs. the Rays this year, though he did miss several weeks due to a demotion to AAA Syracuse. Since being called up from the Sky Chiefs, Bush is 4-3 with a 3.41 ERA. Especially evident has been his improved control. The Rays saw it Sunday when he pitched to a 5:0 ratio, and he is 4:1 overall since the callup.

Could this be Scott Kazmir's final start of 2005? The proposition has been floated around a lot among Ray fan circles due to a heavy increase in innings pitched from previous years. Regardless, don't expect a complete game shutout, because while Lou handles pitchers horribly, even he must see the merit of a pitch count in this situation. This will be Kaz's 29th start of the season, and amazingly, 15 have been quality outings. He  has faced the Jays cuatro times this year, racking up a 1-1, 2.22 line in the process. Certainly that last outing didn't hurt his ERA. Kaz single-handidly pitched his team to a win last Sunday, going seven shutout innings while giving up only four hits. What's more, he showed great control,  walking one and  striking out nine. As always, keeping the ball  out of play is a plus. Let's  just  hope Kaz saved a little bit of juice for tonight's  start, as the  folks from RaysBaseball do not want to be disappointed tonight. Also, Kaz must pitch well for any shot at  a series  win come tomorrow, and I don't want to sacrafice watching the Bucs to come out to the ballpark for nothing, so we'd better win. Sadly, I will be without the extra  weight that is my broom.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bottom line is, the  Rays need this game. This is their final  series vs. the closest AL team to their plateau, and the Rays  probably will end up being the Jays' biggest competition in the next few years, and vice versa. This is their final  series  vs. Toronto this year, so the Rays need to leave an impression by going out strong. Anwyays, two very good pitchers who combined for a 1-0 game at a more offense-friendly park than the Trop square off today,  and it should be exciting goose egg action. I  just do  not believe that Bush is  as good as he pitched last  Sunday, and maybe now that the Rays have him  fresh  in their minds, it will work to their advantage. Pretty much the same thing goes for Kaz, although we know he has the  stuff to keep hitters fooled time and time again. So I think this  one will be close, and I'm looking for any excuse possible to give the Rays an edge, but I will just say this: PITCHER'S DUEL. Lastly. don't forget that tonight's game is RaysBaseball at the Ballpark Day. Don't miss it!

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!