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Game Preview; Wednesday (9/21) vs. Boston

Boston (88-63) at Rays (63-89)
7:15; Tropicana Field
FSN Florida

Deja Vu, eh? Eight days after dropping a 17-3 match to New York, the Rays lose one 15-2 to Boston. That is 32 runs in two games. Pretty pathetic. At least we still have a chance to pick up the series win today, thus cliching the home season series with Boston. But it is pretty sad when he game score looks like an NFL season record plus a playoff loss. The game was so bad, you almost expected Brazelton to have pitched in it. And sure enough...... But as much  as I would like to blame the loss on Braz, there was plenty of blame to go around. The pitching was just god awful. Tim  Corcoran sucked the least, giving up two runs in eight innings. Brazelton, McClung, and Beimel each blew it, however, giving up a combined 13 runs. So it seems fair that Corcoran sucked "the least" on the day he recieved his Durham Pitcher of the Year award. And no, as much as I would like to think the Rays relied on my genius in this, it was determined by someone else. So you just have to pretty much laugh this one off and move on to the next day, because everything is wiped clean and you try again.

BOS-RH Tim Wakefield (15-11, 4.07)
RAYS-LH Scott Kazmir (9-9, 3.77)

Well, I'd have to check the stats, but today's Sox starter Tim Wakefield has got to have the most  wins of any pitcher against the D-Rays, and one of the best winning percentages vs. the home team. The knuckleballer is 13-1 with a 2.86 ERA lifetime vs. the Rays. We counter, however, with southpaw Scott Kazmir, who has gotten his career against the Sox off on the right foot. He has also been, by far, the Rays' best starter this year. Wakefield goes to the mound as the Sox leader in wins, though he is also in double digits in the loss column. Wakefield has had a very good second half, eating innings as well as fooling hitters. He has had two complete games in his last four starts, pitching eight innings or more the other times. That includes a complete game effort last time out against Oakland, when he went the distance giving up two runs on seven hits. He last faced the Rays four starts ago, giving up five runs on six hits in eight innings, including three home runs, yet still got his third win of the year against the Rays. Overall, he has pitched to a 2.63 ERA vs. the Rays this year. He'd better watch out for Carl Crawford though, as CC is hitting .362 with four doubles, a triple, and a home run off of Wakefield. If only our lineup were made up of nine Carl Crawfords.

Taking the mound for the Rays is Scott Kazmir. It appears that Kaz will finish starting on his normal schedule to finish the year,  despite an increase in workload. As risky as that is, and I, for the record, think that he should've been on a limited workload/shut down several starts ago, he seems to get better with every passing start. He squished the O's last time out, reaching .500 in terms of W-L records by limiting his opponent to one run or less for the 12th time in 30 starts. He went just six innings, despite giving up only one run on two hits, and can anyone guess why that is? If you said walks, you are correct. They continue to drive up his pitch counts, and they reached a climax yesterday when he walked FIVE to four strikeouts. If you wanted to do the math, that is a BB/9 of 7.5. Ouch. But the good news (and it doesn't involve car insurance) is that Kaz has been money against the Red Sox dating back to a win in Fenway last September. He is 1-1 with a 3.04 ERA against the Sox this year, with that one win being the Rays' only one in Fenway Park this year back in July. He last  faced the Sox on August 30th, in Fenway, as he matched up with Curt Schilling. He ended up going 5.2 innings, giving up four runs on six hits, but the big problem, again, was a K:BB even at one. Man. So basicly, if Kaz can get a decent K:BB today, you will provbably see him get his well-deserved tenth win. If not, his pitch count will pile up an the innings will be loooooong.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bottom line is, we have a pretty decent pitching matchup today. Wakefield, who is the quintisential Raykiller, goes up against Scott Kazmir, our finest. This game may see its fair share of walks, what with Kaz's control and Wakefield's knuckleball. The Rays look to notch a winning record at  home vs. Boston this year, and it will be interesting to see how they rebound from last night's drubbing. This will be our final game against the Sox this year (I can't contain my tears), and the Rays head out on a tough two city quest vs. the Tribe and Angels after this, so the road does not get any easier. Let's hit the road on a good note, and take something from the Sox this year!

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