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Game Report 09/10/07; DEVIL RAYS 1, Boston 0

RAYS 1, Boston 0

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
DEVIL RAYS 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 7 0
Boston 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0

Win Probability table courtesy of Fan Graphs.
Kazmir Leads Rays to Shutout Win at Fenway

Boston-Scott Kazmir threw a season-high 118 pitches, but every last one ultimately ended up being worth it as the Rays matched their 2006 win total in a 1-0 shutout win against the Red Sox in Boston. The Rays began a 10 game, 10 day road trip the right way behind the pitching of their staff ace, who picked up his team-leading 12th win of the year.

There were setbacks, of course. Kazmir came close to giving up the lead several times in the last few innings of the ballgame amid a rapidly rising pitch count, and Rays RF Delmon Young was ejected after being called out on a base running blunder in the ninth, but ultimately the Rays' bullpen preserved the 1-0 advantage on the way to victory.

The Rays put up the only run of the ballgame in the fifth inning, and their offensive activity in that frame was really the first sustained offensive activity by either side in the ballgame. Greg Norton, starting at DH for Tampa Bay in light of his historically good numbers against Red Sox starter Curt Schilling, doubled to lead off the inning and was advanced home on two sacrifices. The "manufactured run" came partly via a Dioner Navarro sac bunt. The odd thing about it was that Navarro was batting right-handed against the righty Schilling due to wrist discomfort sustained in batting practice. Norton ended up 2 for 3 with a walk on the day to validate Maddon's lineup decision to rest Jonny Gomes, 1 for 18 off of Schilling.

Schilling himself had a decent outing despite sub par velocity. He went six innings of work while surrendering five hits and one walk, while striking out five. Bryan Corey, Javier Lopez, and Mike Timlin combined to shut out the Rays over the final three innings of the ballgame, but the Rays did not fold easily in their quest for insurance runs. The Rays advanced a runner to second base in the seventh inning, and seemed poised to do so again in the ninth on a controversial play. With Delmon Young on first after a base hit to lead off the inning, Brendan Harris lifted a long fly ball deep into the triangular quadrant of Fenway Park's center field area. Red Sox CF Coco Crisp leaped up in front of the wall to make a spectacular catch on Harris' drive. While this was transpiring, Delmon Young was preparing to advance several bases on what he thought was a sure base hit. He had passed second when Crisp caught the ball, and was forced to attempt a retreat back to first before the ball got back in. On a bang-bang play that appeared to be a tie if there ever was one, first base umpire Tony Randazzo ruled that Alex Cora's throw into first was in time and ruled Young out. This sent Young over the edge. Upon retreating to the dugout, Young tossed his helmet onto the field and was ejected from the game. The Rays' right fielder finished with a team-high three hits. This incident was just another in a long line of calls on the evening that the Rays felt unjustly went against them.

In the end, the Rays were able to surmount all offensive and umpiring-related challenges to pull out in front of Boston for the win, thanks almost entirely to starter Scott Kazmir. Kazmir shut out Boston for seven innings of work, sitting down ten batters on strikes while walking just two. He encountered some difficulty in the seventh, when he entered the inning having thrown 96 pitches. That count escalated as the inning went along. After a Bobby Kielty single and a Jason Varitek walk, the Sox had the tying run 180 feet from home plate when a mound conference was called. Rays manager Joe Maddon elected to let Kazmir go out and try to achieve the final two outs of the inning, which he promptly did in ending up with 118 total pitches. Dan Wheeler let one Sox batter get on due to a walk in the eighth, but other than that the Rays' late inning duo set the Sox down in order as Al Reyes recorded his 24th save of the season.

Minor League Playoffs:

SALLY League Championship Series Game 1-The Rays' Low A Columbus Catfish affiliate took Game 1 of the South Atlantic League championship series 5-2 against the West Virginia Power; the Catfish now need just two games to wrap up the league title and can do so as soon as this Thursday in Columbus. Starter Heath Rollins gave up two runs, one earned, over six innings of work while Brian Baker and Neal Frontz pitched a scoreless three innings to close out the ballgame. 3B Cesar Suarez homered for Columbus, while DH Quinn Stewart had three hits, including a triple. 1B Matt Fields also had multiple hits, two to be exact, one of which was a double. RF John Matulia also doubled in the winning effort. The Catfish aim to take Game 2 tomorrow in Charleston, game time is 7:05 ET.

RAYS at Boston
7:05; RAYS TV


RAYS LH Scott Kazmir 182.2 3.79 9.80 3.99 2.46 8.92 .742 0.89 1.43 1.01 17.52
BOS RH Curt Schilling 131.1 4.04 6.03 1.51 4.00 10.14 .763 1.23 1.29 0.87 15.21

LH Scott Kazmir, DEVIL RAYS:

Overview-Scott Kazmir takes to the hill for the 31st time this season as Tampa Bay embarks on a 10 day, 10 game road trip with a stop in Boston. He has struggled somewhat this year, as his 3.79 ERA is the highest total of his career outside of a six week trial period in late 2004. The good news for him is that he takes on a Boston ballclub against whom he has posted a 2.82 ERA all-time, including a 3.15 ERA in Fenway Park. He achieved the first quality start of his career in the venerable Boston ballpark on September 14, 2004 when he pitched six shutout innings of work in the first start of his career against the Red Sox. He would throw another 3.1 shutout innings against the Sox later in the month to finish the year having given up no runs in two appearances against Boston. Though his strikeouts are down and his walks and ERA are up in a disappointing year, he should reach a career high for innings pitched in a year during this start. He currently stands at 182.2; his career high is 186. He will also achieve his first 200 strikeout year when his next victim goes down on strikes. The results for Kazmir lately have been mixed; though he has a 2.82 ERA overall since bottoming out on July 8th, he has a 5.96 ERA over his past four starts, including one outing against Boston. He looks to finish the season strong and cement his position as the staff ace down the stretch as the Rays take on contending American League ballclubs.

Recent Starts-As previously mentioned, Kazmir has struggled as of late in posting a 5.96 ERA over his last four starts. Three of those have come against division opponents, which include the two starts immediately prior to this one, both against Baltimore. Previous to this stretch, he had a 1.01 ERA over 44.2 innings of work. In each of his last two outings against the Orioles he has surrendered four earned runs, in five and seven innings of work, respectively. Though he had a brief interlude of effectiveness on August 25th against Oakland, that start was immediately preceded by a six run bombing in 5.2 innings against these very same Boston Red Sox.

vs BOS-His last outing notwithstanding, Kazmir does have a track record of success against Boston as illustrated above. He has a 3.42 ERA against the Sox in four starts this year, and is even better in Fenway Park where he has posted a 2.25 ERA in two outings. The key to Kazmir's success has been holding the big bats in Boston's order down for minimal damage. He has held Red Sox DH David Ortiz and LF Manny Ramirez to a combined 11 for 73. His success against Ramirez may be for naught, however, as the Sox slugger is sidelined with a strained left oblique at the moment. The only Sox players with any sustained success against Kazmir are 3B Mike Lowell (19 ABs-.316/.435/.684), OF Bobby Kielty (16 ABs-.438/.471/.875), and 2B Dustin Pedroia (12 ABs-.583/.615/.667).

RH Curt Schilling, Boston:

Overview-The well-documented relationship between Curt Schilling and the Devil Rays has another chapter added to it this evening when the righty faces Tampa Bay for the first time this season. Aside from being a division rival's ace pitcher for the last four years, Schilling has also taken it upon himself to increase awareness of his name among Rays fan circles for one reason or another over the last few years. There has been his (mostly verbal) role in the numerous on-field altercations between the two teams over the last several years, and there was also the rant he went on several years ago in which he ripped everything about the Devil Rays from broadcaster Joe Magrane to his opponent this evening, Scott Kazmir. Recently he has expressed interest in possibly signing here for next season, go figure. Whether the Rays would want him and what his asking price would be is debatable. Schilling has posted a 4.04 ERA in 21 starts this year, his strikeout rate is at its lowest since his 1988 rookie season with Baltimore, his walks are up, and his home run rate is stagnant (at an unacceptable rate). But the question is, with all that in mind, is he still good enough to be a sound investment for the Rays? Even at his present rates, which represent a decline from his previous standards, is he still good enough to represent a good buy for a No. 2 or 3 starter next year? The stats can speak for themselves, but tonight judge for yourself whether Schilling still has it.

Recent Starts-Schilling returned from an almost-two month stay on the disabled list with his start on August 6th and has started unabated ever since. During that period he has posted a 3.65 ERA to help Boston maintain their status in first place of the AL East while staving off a run from the New York Yankees. Though he has struggled since that first start back in two starts against Anaheim, he provided a key effort for Boston and kept them in an ultimate losing effort when he gave up just two runs over seven innings to the Yankees on August 30th. Last time out on September 5th he posted a bare-minimum quality start when he surrendered three earned runs over six innings against Toronto.

vs DEVIL RAYS-As mentioned earlier Schilling makes his first start against the Rays of the 2007 season. He has made 16 starts and five relief appearances against the Rays all-time, almost all of which as a member of the Red Sox, and has a 3.80 ERA to show for his efforts. He certainly became very familiar with the Rays last year, when he made six starts against the team while posting a 3.38 ERA. Yet despite his career success against the Rays, a couple of individual players have certainly been able to find success against him. Carl Crawford specifically has by far and out the most experience against him, and he has made the most of his 45 at bats by hitting to a line of .333/.362/.489 against him. Surprisingly the maligned Greg Norton actually has the highest per capita success in a reasonable at bat total against him, hitting .333/.417/.571 off of him in 21 at bats. Rays manager Joe Maddon would be wise to spell Jonny Gomes at DH with Norton, as the scruffy Rays slugger is a putrid 1 for 18 off of the ace righty.


3B Akinori Iwamura
LF Carl Crawford
1B Carlos Peña
CF B.J. Upton
RF Delmon Young
2B Brendan Harris
DH Greg Norton
C Dioner Navarro
SS Josh Wilson
DH Julio Lugo
CF Coco Crisp
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Mike Lowell
RF Bobby Kielty
1B Kevin Youkilis
C Jason Varitek
LF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Alex Cora

Bravo Joe!!!!!

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