Tampa Bay (56-68) at Seattle (46-76)

Fair Currently: Seattle, WA
Temp: 41° F
  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Mon Aug 23, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The New York Mets felt Scott Kazmir wouldn’t be ready for the majors until 2005 or 2006.

Apparently, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays don’t agree.

Three weeks after dealing for the Mets’ top pitching prospect, the Devil Rays will give Kazmir the ball for his first career major league start as Tampa Bay opens a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Kazmir, a flame-throwing 20-year-old left-hander, was dealt to the Devil Rays on July 30 in the four-player trade that sent right-hander Victor Zambrano to New York.

The 15th overall pick in the 2002 draft, Kazmir was being touted as the Mets’ ace of the future, but fell out of favor within the organization over the last year.

He has a 2.50 ERA and racked up 104 strikeouts in 101 innings in the minors this year, prompting the Devil Rays to bring him up a full week before major league rosters expand to 40 players.

The Devil Rays will officially call up Kazmir on Monday from Double-A Montgomery, where he has a 1.44 ERA in four appearances. At 20 years and seven months, Kazmir will be the youngest pitcher in the majors, and the second youngest in team history.

“I would think he would be the first call-up on the road trip coming up,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said of Kazmir earlier this week. “There is a chance, probably a good chance, he’ll be in our rotation when we go to Seattle.”

Chad Gaudin was 20 years and four months when he pitched for the Devil Rays last season.

All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford and third baseman Aubrey Huff may both be missing from the Devil Rays’ lineup Monday.

Crawford, the majors’ stolen base leader, bruised his right shoulder diving for two balls in Saturday night’s 5-0 loss to the A’s. He took one round of batting practice Sunday before leaving to undergo treatment.

“It’s sore when I swing the bat,” said Crawford, who also experiences discomfort when raising his arm above his shoulder.

Huff, who leads the team with 22 homers and 80 RBIs, had played in 398 straight games before sitting out Sunday’s 2-1 win over Oakland. He left Saturday’s game after the first inning with back spasms.

”(The injuries are) not going to be of long duration,” Piniella said.

Tampa Bay snapped a four-game losing streak Sunday, and has won just two of its last 12 games.

Willie Bloomquist hit his first homer in more than 13 months—a go-ahead three-run shot in the fifth inning—to lead the Mariners to a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

Bloomquist has hit just one other home run in his career, against the Devil Rays on July 13, 2003. Bloomquist, who went 3-for-4 on Sunday, has 374 career at-bats.

A day after going 4-for-7 with two RBIs, Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki was 1-for-5—lowering his AL-leading batting average to .370.

Seattle is opening an eight-game homestand.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Kazmir Hou vs. B. Madritsch KC
2-3 Record 6-3
5.67 ERA 3.27
41 K 60
21 BB 33
1.62 WHIP 1.22