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Game 1 Notes: Rays at Astros

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The Rays and Astros begin a pivotal four game series in Houston

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On this date back in 2011, the Rays were just coming off a double header vs the Boston Red Sox. They split the two games and at the end of the day, the Rays were eight games back in the wild card race. This past weekend, the Rays were swept by one of the team that they are competing with to reach the post season. The Rays are now six and half games back in the division and two and half games back in the wild card race, the season is not over.

However, this was a deflating series as each game this past weekend was winnable. The series captured the Rays season in a nutshell as the bullpen squandered a lead and good pitching performance in the first game, Chris Archer was unable to contain the Rangers in a game that was pretty much needed to be won, and then Drew Smyly struggled during his return while the offense was unable to come through with runners on base.

Hopefully tonight, the Rays will halt the losing stream and begin to go on a run for the post-season. They face a daunting task however, as former team ace, Scott Kazmir will take the mound against them. Also, the Rays will be without their top slugging prospect, Richie Shaffer, as he was demoted earlier today so the Rays could bolster their bullpen with another arm, Enny Romero.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Erasmo Ramirez vs Scott Kazmir

PITCHERS W L ERA FIP K% BB% AVG HR GS IP
Erasmo Ramirez 9 4 3.59 3.69 19.0% 6.7% .218 9 18 (25 G) 110.1
Scott Kazmir 6 7 2.12 3.36 21.4% 7.9% .206 10 22 135.2

Erasmo Ramirez was excellent his last time out against the Braves as he, Brandon Gomes, and Xavier Cedeno combined to shutout Atlanta. Ramirez pitched into the eighth inning of the game, but a leadoff single ended his night. His final line on the day was seven innings pitched, while he allowed five hits, struck out four, and walked zero earning his ninth victory of the year.

Ramirez has come a long way since his first two disastrous outing with Tampa Bay. Since April 19th, he has a 2.49 ERA and opponents are hitting only .195 off him over his last 23 games and 105 innings on the mound.

Scott Kazmir Scouting Report:

Scott Kazmir had one of the best months of his career during July, and was even named the American league Pitcher of the Month. During July, Kazmir allowed one earned run over 34 innings en route to earning the accolade. Towards the end of the month, he was dealt to his hometown Houston Astros in a deal that triggered trade deadline frenzy around the league. His last time out was on the 11th against San Francisco where he went five plus innings and gave up three runs on seven hits, while he struck out three and walked two.

His arsenal:

PITCH VELOCITY FREQUENCY vs LHB vs RHB
Fastball Low 90's

36% vs LHB

***

30% vs RHB

Tries to stay near the outside corner and low and in the zone Paints the outside corner, usually out of the zone
Sinker Low 90's

15% vs LHB

***

29% vs RHB

Sporadic Paints the outside corner, usually out of the zone
Cutter High 80's

21% vs LHB

***

11% vs RHB

Tends to stay down and away from the zone Buries it down and in
Slider Low 80's

25% vs LHB

***

01% vs RHB

Sweeps it down and away from the zone Sporadic
Curve High 70's

01% vs LHB

***

05% vs RHB

Sporadic Sporadic
Change High 70's

02% vs LHB

***

25% vs RHB

Sporadic Either anywhere below or away from the zone.

So far this season, Kazimir is generating the highest groundball rate of his career at 45%, meanwhile flies are being hit at an all-time low at 35% with the remaining 20% being linedrives.

His splits:

TBF AVG OBP SLG K% BB% HR
vs LHB 137 .240 .289 .394 14.6% 5.1% 4
vs RHB 409 .194 .272 .287 23.7% 8.8% 6

Today's Lineups

TAMPA BAY RAYS HOUSTON ASTROS
Brandon Guyer - RF Jose Altuve - 2B
Desmond Jennings - LF Preston Tucker - LF
Evan Longoria - 3B Carlos Correa - SS
Logan Forsythe - DH Jed Lowrie - 3B
Asdrubal Cabrera - SS Carlos Gomez - CF
Tim Beckham - 2B Colby Rasmus - RF
Daniel Nava - 1B Evan Gattis - DH
Kevin Kiermaier - CF Luis Valbuena - 1B
Curt Casali - C Jason Castro - C
Erasmo Ramirez - RHP Scott Kazmir - LHP

- With Richie Shaffer drawing the short stick and being sent down, Daniel Nava gets to make a start at first base. Nava has played first base in 36 of his 415 games at the major league level.

- Logan Forsythe will be the DH tonight, giving him his first day of the field since May 22nd.

- Asdrubal Cabrera continued his hot hitting over the weekend going 5-11. He is 29-61 (.475) since returning from the DL on July 28th, and since June 26th he is 45-114 (.395).

Other Rays Notes:

- August 17th in team history, of which they are 7-7 all-time

  • Three former Devil Rays/Rays players celebrate their birth days as Jeff Liefer (1974), Chad Qualls (1978), and Jeff Ridgway (1980) were born on this date.
    • Liefer spent the majority of his career with the White Sox, but in 2003 he spent all of nine games with Tampa Bay. Over his career, which lasted for seven seasons (1999-2005), he slashed .230/.281/.398 with 31 HR during 288 games.
    • Qualls is currently serving as a solid bullpen arm for the Astros. At the 2010 deadline, he was the big name acquisition the Rays received instead of the much needed slugger. Qualls struggled during his time with Tampa, but he has been a decent reliever for the majority of his so far, 12 season long career (2004-2015). During his time in the majors, Qualls has a 3.76 ERA and a 3.75 FIP over the course of 745 innings pitched and 763 games.
    • Ridgway was drafted by Tampa in 1999, but had to wait eight years to finally make his MLB debut in 2007 when he'd play in three games for the Devil Rays. That offseason he was dealt to Atlanta for Willy Aybar. Ridgway would play in nine games for the Braves, but would be released and was out of baseball following 2010.
  • 2002 - With a 4-3 lead in the ninth, Esteban Yan blows the save opportunity as he gives up a solo-HR to Brent Mayne. Three innings later, Jesus Colome implodes and allows four runs in the 12th inning, including homers from Mike Sweeney and Raul Ibanez. Tampa Bay would lose to the Royals, 7-3.
  • 2004 - During an 8-3 victory over the Angels, Melvin Upton Jr becomes the youngest player in franchise history to hit a home run. He was 19 years old when he accomplished the feat.
  • 2011 - David Price and Kyle Farnsworth combine to shutout the Red Sox, 4-0 on only three hits.