It hasn’t taken Victor Zambrano very long to lose whatever momentum he gained during a brilliant 3-0 start to the season.
The struggling right-hander hopes to end a six-start winless streak and bounce back from one of the worst outings of his career when the hapless Tampa Bay Devil Rays complete a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox.
Zambrano burst out of the gate with three straight wins, establishing himself as one of the majors’ biggest early season surprises after going a solid 12-10 for the Devil Rays in 2003. But things have fallen apart quickly for the 28-year-old Venezuelan.
He has lost his last four decisions, including Saturday’s embarrassing 9-7 setback at Cleveland in which he surrendered six runs and walked seven in just 1 1-3 innings. Zambrano also displayed his frustration after being relieved in the second inning, getting into a verbal exchange with home plate umpire Gerry Davis on his way to the dugout.
“What happened out there was my fault,” Zambrano said. “I was fighting with my mechanics and I’m not going to talk about that.”
Catcher Brooke Fordyce had an equally frustrating day trying to tame Zambrano’s stuff.
“I’ve caught him in spring training and during the season, and he’s pretty much been on,” he said. “His ball moved so much. It was in and out of the zone. His fastball was in the dirt. His ball has so much movement, when his mechanics are off, it magnifies everything.”
The Devil Rays have lost all five meetings with the Red Sox this season, including Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat. Curt Schilling tossed seven strong innings for Boston, which got homers from Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez en route to its fourth victory in five games overall.
Tino Martinez had an RBI double for the Devil Rays, who have lost five straight and 12 of 13. Tampa Bay, a major league-worst 10-28, has been outscored 28-7 by Boston this year.