St. Petersburg-The Rays staked out an early lead, but Scott Kazmir racked up a high pitch count and the Orioles scored their winning runs off of the bullpen to win the game and the series, 6-4 before a surprisingly decent crowd of 10,540 at Tropicana Field. The matinee game, the final one in the three game series between the two ballclubs, precedes a day off and a weekend set with the Cleveland Indians. The Orioles will now play three at home against Toronto.
Kazmir made his fourth start of the season for the Rays and was helped out early in his start by the Rays' offense. Rocco Baldelli lead off the Rays' first inning by lining a home run over the left field wall to generate an early lead. The Orioles tied the ballgame in the top of the second when Ray-killer Freddie Bynum doubled home Jon Knott, but the Rays would continue to score in the bottom halves of the second and third innings to give Kazmir a 3-1 advantage heading into the fourth. That is when Kazmir began running into problems.
Already suffering from a poor pitch count and a general lack of control, Kazmir allowed a base hit to Miguel Tejada to lead off the inning, later followed by a Jon Knott walk. Former Ray Chris Gomez, starting at first for the Orioles, singled in Tejada, and two batters later Orioles backup C Alberto Castillo doubled in Knott to tie the game. Kazmir would walk Brian Roberts before the inning ended. He ultimately threw 102 pitches in just four innings of work on the day, and struggled with his control. Though he did not receive a decision and was charged with just three runs, he walked four and gave up six hits as compared to three strikeouts, indicating that his outing easily could have been much worse then it actually was.
Meanwhile the Rays' lineup failed to back up the bullpen after the departure of Kazmir, as they are sometimes prone to do, and scored just one run after his departure. The Orioles quickly tacked on their go-ahead runs in the fifth off of reliever Gary Glover, as Miguel Tejada and Kevin Millar hit back to back doubles, the latter of which scored Tejada. Jon Knott would single in Millar for the insurance run, and Nick Markakis would later hit a solo shot in the seventh to tack on Baltimore's final run of the afternoon. Glover took the loss in going 2.2 innings, he was charged with three runs on four hits. Shawn Camp and Juan Salas pitched the final 2.1 scoreless frames of the ballgame.
3:10; NO TV
RAYS RADIO/WHNZ 1250 AM
|BAL||LH E. Bedard||196.1||3.76||7.84||3.16||2.48||8.98||.692||0.73||1.35||1.63||16.80|
|RAYS||LH S. Kazmir||144.2||3.24||10.14||3.24||3.13||8.21||.697||0.93||1.27||1.07||16.80|
LH Erik Bedard, BAL:
Overview-The Orioles send the lefty Erik Bedard to the hill for the final game of their series with the Rays at Tropicana Field. Bedard, the Orioles' ace, is coming off of an excellent 2006 season in which he made 33 starts for Baltimore and posted a 3.76 ERA. After being rocked for six runs in 4.2 innings in his Opening Day start against the Minnesota Twins, Bedard has leveled off to pitch decently in his next few starts, including one on April 8th in which he surrendered three runs to the Yankees over seven frames. Should Bedard continue to make strides in his pitching, the Orioles could have their first true ace since Mike Mussina departed for New York.
Last Start-Bedard matched up last time out against the Kansas City Royals, striking out nine and giving up one run in six innings of work. That said, he still walked four and gave up five hits, and left after throwing 103 pitches, proving the integral element for him of keeping his outing economical.
vs RAYS-Bedard saw a lot of Tampa Bay last year as the Orioles' ace, and unfortunately the Rays came out on the wrong end most of the time in those matchups. He made six starts against the Rays last year in posting a 2.75 ERA, including three starts at Tropicana Field during which he posted a *0.86 ERA*. Bedard has a 2.98 ERA all-time against the Rays in 81.2 innings of work, including a 2.22 ERA at Tropicana Field. Among Rays hitters, Carl Crawford has the most experience facing Bedard, 50 at bats, although most of them have been unsuccessful. Ty Wigginton is 6 for 13 all-time off of the Orioles' left, while Greg Norton is 3 for 8.
LH Scott Kazmir, RAYS:
Overview-Scott Kazmir makes his fourth start of the season for the Rays, his second home start, and looks to build off of his superb outing last time out at Minnesota. Kazmir, who suffered injury setbacks last year in making just 24 starts, looks to extrapolate his 3.24 ERA from last year over a larger sample size, although he struggled in his Opening Day start, and was merely average in his second start of the season against Toronto. Overall, he has a 4.95 ERA so far this year in 20 innings of work, and other then a nasty little problem with being tagged for four home runs thus far, he has been pitching soundly.
Last Start-Kazmir really gave an impressive effort last time out against the Minnesota Twins. Squaring off against Twins ace Johan Santana, he gave up just two runs in eight innings of work, while striking out six and walking none. He left after throwing a high total of 113 pitches, but the Rays preserved the lead that he took into the ninth, and the lefty bested Santana in the matchup. It was Santana's first home loss since August of 2005.
vs Baltimore-Kazmir's most memorable outing against the Orioles was his 2006 Opening Day start, in which he struggled mightily in lasting only four innings. That was one of the lefty's three starts against the Orioles during the 2006 campaign, and overall he fared worse against Baltimore than he did against any other team that he faced more than once. The solace is that he had a 1.91 ERA in 11 starts at Tropicana Field last season, and in him having posted a 3.33 ERA against Baltimore in four starts in 2005. Among Baltimore hitters, Brian Roberts has had a fair amount of success in 30 at bats against the Rays' ace, going 12 for 30 with two home runs. Kevin Millar has nine hits and nine walks in 37 career plate appearances against Kazmir, while Miguel Tejada is 8 for 25 with a home run all-time.
Baltimore-The Orioles keep the first four hitters in their lineup intact from last night, though Kevin Millar moves up a spot to the DH role in relief of Aubrey Huff. Jon Knott, who hit a three run homer in last night's game, plays left and bats sixth, while former Ray Chris Gomez is at first and bats seventh. Alberto Castillo and Freddie Bynum remain in the lineup in their respective positions, however they flip spots in the order.
DEVIL RAYS-Rocco Baldelli won't take the field today, but he is in the lineup as the Designated Hitter leading off for the Rays. Ben Zobrist makes his return to the lineup and bats second, moving Brendan Harris over to third where he spells Akinori Iwamura. The middle of the order retains its spots, Harris slots in as the No. 6 hitter, while Elijah Dukes gets some playing time hitting seventh and playing in center field. Josh Paul relieves Dioner Navarro as the starting catcher today and bats eighth, while B.J. Upton takes the field at second and bats ninth.