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Game Thread 09/17/07; DEVIL RAYS (63-87) at Anaheim (87-62)

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RAYS at Anaheim
10:05; NO TV
RAYS RADIO/WHNZ 1250 AM

PITCHING MATCHUP:

IP ERA K/9 BB/9 K/BB H/9 OPS HR/9 WHIP G/F P/IP
RAYS RH Edwin Jackson 144.0 5.94 7.19 4.94 1.46 10.81 .842 1.13 1.75 1.22 18.48
ANA RH Kelvim Escobar 185.2 3.25 7.42 3.01 2.47 8.19 .665 0.53 1.24 1.13 15.36

RH Edwin Jackson, DEVIL RAYS:

Overview-Edwin Jackson makes his 29th start of the season for the Rays tonight in Anaheim as Tampa Bay looks for their first win of the season in Southern California. Jackson's up and down season has been well-documented, with his latest stretch of starts culminating in an ERA of 4.17 since July 31st. Jackson's walk totals remain high and present a significant obstacle to his having any sustained period of success, and despite his upside he will need to overcome his penchant for allowing too many baserunners if he wants to be successful. Though he actually had one of his better starts in the first half right here in Anaheim back on April 25th, a debacle of errors prevented him from finishing respectfully in an eventual 9-1 Angels win. Jackson looks to rekindle that brief moment of early season success tonight in Anaheim. The question is, will his poor walk totals finally catch up to his recent streak of improved starts?

Recent Starts-Jackson rebounded from a rough beginning last time out in Boston against the Red Sox to post an outing that, on the whole, was decent. After loading the bases in the second and giving up a three run homer in the third, Jackson straightened out and finished the game having given up just the lone three runs on eight hits in six innings of work. He also walked three and struck out six; not a great outing by any means but certainly solid. This follows up a decidedly less than stellar start in his previous outing against Toronto, when he gave up seven runs in 5.2 innings of work. But even that wasn't quite as bad as the start before that against New York: 3.1 innings, 7 runs, 6 earned. Overall Jackson has a 9.60 ERA in the month of September.

vs ANA-Jackson has made two career starts against the Angels, one as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and has also made three relief appearances against Anaheim as well. On the whole he has a 5.23 ERA against the Angels in 10.1 total innings of work. Most of that experience came in his six inning outing earlier this year at Angel Stadium. Jackson pitched mostly well in an eventual 9-1 Rays loss. However the Rays made three errors in a terribly played game that epitomized the absolute worst of Rays baseball. Although Jackson holds some responsibility for the three earned runs he gave up, he deserved better than the fate that he got in the loss. The outing was, to that point, his best of the season and would stand up as the high water mark of his season for another month. Among individual Anaheim players, none have a substantial track record against him. Vladimir Guerrero has a home run in six at bats against him, while Gary Matthews Jr. and Maicer Izturis each have two hits in five at bats against the righty.

RH Kelvim Escobar, Anaheim:

Overview-One of the key reasons for Anaheim's success this season, starter Kelvim Escobar takes to the hill tonight to cement his contention for the Cy Young race. Escobar has been one of the leaders of an occasionally inconsistent Angel starting staff this year, racking up innings and quality starts while keeping Anaheim in the driver's seat of the AL West. The former Toronto Blue Jay signed as a free agent with the Angels following the 2003 season and since arriving in Southern California has been a boon to the pitching staff, other than in his injury-plagued 2005 season. In every year since 2004, Escobar has posted a sub-4 ERA while throwing for 185 innings or more in three of the four seasons. Whereas he was formerly a benchmark of mediocrity in the Toronto rotation, he has stepped forward to become an integral part of Anaheim's success.

Recent Starts-Escobar has struggled somewhat as of late, posting a 6.51 ERA over his last five starts and a 9.22 ERA over his last three to fall behind in the Cy Young chase. In fact not counting an eight inning, one run effort against the Blue Jays on August 26th, his ERA over his last five starts jumps to 8.69. Since his ERA reached a three month low of 2.68 on August 16th, it has been all downhill for Escobar. That includes his lasting outing, in which he got bombed for six runs over 5.1 innings against the struggling Baltimore Orioles.

vs DEVIL RAYS-The Angels righty has his fair share of experience against Tampa Bay dating back to his seven seasons with AL East rival Toronto. Though he hasn't seen the current crop of Rays players more than any other tenured AL starter of the last several years, he has made 14 starts and 20 relief appearances against the team over the course of his career, struggling through most of it I might add. Escobar has a 5.62 ERA lifetime against the Rays, though he was masterful against the team earlier this year in his lone start against them. He picked up the win at Tropicana Field on July 19th in an 11-3 Anaheim win by shutting out the Rays for 7.2 innings of work, his third shutout performance of the season to that point. He has not faced Tampa Bay in Angel Stadium this year. Unfortunately for the Rays, Carl Crawford is not going to be in this one due to groin issues. Even more than usual, they'd want him in the lineup today due to his tremendous success against the Halos starter. After him production and experience dip off significantly among Rays players, although B.J. Upton has two hits (one of them a home run) in seven at bats against Escobar.

STARTING LINEUPS:

DEVIL RAYS
3B Akinori Iwamura
DH Greg Norton
1B Carlos Peña
CF B.J. Upton
RF Delmon Young
2B Brendan Harris
LF Jonny Gomes
C Dioner Navarro
SS Josh Wilson
Anaheim
RF Chone Figgins
SS Orlando Cabrera
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Garret Anderson
3B Macier Izturis
1B Casey Kotchman
2B Howie Kendrick
C Jeff Mathis
CF Nathan Haynes

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