Kazmir Posts 9th Win Against Rangers
I always like to watch these Ranger series games in Arlington. Not that the female fans are the only reason to want to see the scan shots of the seats in the stadium, but sometimes you see that gut who doesn’t know he is on camera and the dip in his mouth is drooling down the side. To make matters worse, he did not know it and kissed his girlfriend who promptly popped his cowboy hat off his head.
Seriously tho, this series is one of the wildest series the Rays usually have during the year. Both squads are equally matched and the Rangers have an offensive advantage in their home digs, but the heat gets to both teams. That is the main reason this game is played at night instead of 3 PM. The temperature on the field would be around 105 degrees and fluids would be flowing like water in the dugouts between innings.
Heck, with that kind of heat, you might as well put a water cooler behind the pitcher’s mound, or at least have semi-inning sprinklers come on to drench the players. I know playing outdoors in August in Florida is usually both a humidity bath and a sweat factory. Now when the Marlins and Rays play in South Florida, the afternoon games begin at 11 AM to try and fool the Florida heat, but that never seems to work for either team.
But the Texas heat can be murder in the middle of the day more because of the non-humid conditions that tend to have the sweat bake on your sakin and a huge sunburn can be blistering and reddening by the 9th inning. So, thse night games might seem weird for viewing fans, but the players love it because of the slight wind that does sneak into the stadium at night fall.
Scott Kazmir has had problems with his pitch counts in most of his 2008 starts. Kazmir has been averaging 18 pitches per inning this year and needs to bring that number down to be able to stay in the ballgames longer and help the Rays’ Bullpen situation.
Tonight, Kazmir collected his 9th win of the season, and went 6 inning. He still threw 114 pitches, but did not have the control he wanted in the game. Kazmir walked 4 in the game and struck out 7 Rangers’. In his previous two starts against Texas, Kazmir was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
Kazmir only ran into real trouble twice in this ballgame. In the 3rd inning, after a Ian Kinsler double and a Walk to Brian Boggs, Michael Young hit a single down the leftfield foul line that just fell in by a foot to score Kinsler and give the Rangers their first run of the night.
In the 5th inning, Travis Metcalf took a 0-2 pitch deep to left field for a solo homer for the Rangers. That was the end of the Ranger’s scoring against Kazmir.
During the contest, viewers at home did not see the result of Carlos Pena’s broken bat in the his first inning at-bat. The baseball fan, in the red shirt, is assisted by security and medical personnel after being hit in the face with a portion of a broken bat. Rangers. Pena popped out to third during the at-bat and the fan was escorted away following his injury.
The Rays got hot in the start of the 3rd inning as Gabe Gross led off with a double down the leftfield line that Gross originally thought was foul and hesitated out of the batters’ box. Considering the situation with B J Upton on that Friday night, Gross looked more embarrassed than worried about Rays Managers Joe Maddon’s comment to him later in the inning.
B J Upton then came on and doubled down the leftfield line also to score Gross and give the Rays an early 1-0 lead. It was Upton’s 55th RBI of the year, and his 28th double of the season. Ben Zorbrist then 1-hopped a ball to the wall in rightfield and settled for a single.
With men at first and third, Carlos Pena came up to bat. Pena took the second pitch he saw from Ranger’s starter Dustin Nippert and deposited it in the rightfield stands for a 3-run homer, and an early 4-0 Rays lead. Pena now has 6 homers in his last 12 games for the Rays.
But the Rays were not finished with the scoring in the game. Eric Hinske lead off the 4th inning with a double to deep left centerfield. Jason Bartlett then came up with 2 outs and hit a single to right that scored Hinske.
Then BJ Upton, who was batting in the lead-off spot tonight, hit a 2-run homer to right for his 8th homer of the year. The homer put the Rays up 7-1.
The Rays did have some Bullpen trouble in the 9th inning as Grant Balfour came in for the Rays. Balfour started by walking Ramon Vasquez on 9 pitches to load the bases for the Rangers.
Balfour then got Brian Boggs to commit a potential double play, but the Rays only got one out on the toss by Iwamura to Bartlett. The Rays Manager Joe Maddon came out to argue that Vasquez went intentionally for Bartlett’s legs, but was overruled by the second base umpire, Tim Timmons. Boggs then went to second during Michael Young’s at bat on fielders indifference and put 2 runners in scoring position for the Rangers.
With Josh Hamilton up to bat next for the Rangers, Maddon decided to intentionally walk Hamilton and let Chris Davis score from third on the walk. The play was a calculated guess by Maddon that the walk would be the least amount of damage by Hamilton, and the Rays were still leading by 3 runs at the moment.
After the walk, Balfour was replaced by Dan Wheeler, who came in and struck out Marlon Byrd to record his 5th save of the year.
Before the game, Rays Television guru, Todd Kalas talked with Cliff Floyd about the recent B J Upton situation. Floyd did agree with the punishment and the severity of the situation and will take Upton under his wing the rest of the year and try and mentor him to be more aware of game situations in the future.
Floyd also stated that Upton has to be careful how he is percieved from this moment on. Players who have shown a tendency to be difficult or problem children have had a hard time finding a position in the majors. He commented that showing respect by running every play out, by playing hard every moment of the game will make this sitation disappear faster than words at this time.
Great comments by a veteran player who is also the barometer of the clubhouse right now for the Rays. The Rays had a chance to get Floyd a few years ago right after he became a free agent with the New York Mets, but Floyd went to the Chicago Cub instead that season. Maybe if the Rays had such a veteran leadership in the clubhouse a few years ago, this year would be more expected than as a surprise to most teams in the league.