Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella knows just how important it was for Scott Kazmir to get his first win of the season.
Kazmir looks to turn in another strong performance as the Devil Rays resume their three-game series with the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field.
Kazmir allowed two earned runs and three hits in 5 2-3 innings of Thursday’s 6-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers. He left the game after he was hit on the right leg by a line drive.
The 21-year-old left-hander has allowed three or fewer earned runs in four of his previous eight starts, but Tampa Bay had scored three or fewer runs in five of he games he started.
”(Kazmir) threw well and we gave him some run support,” Piniella said. “But you want all of your young pitchers to win, because it settles them down. You talk about pitching well, but the biggest confidence booster is winning a baseball game.”
Kazmir made eight appearances, including seven starts, last season and went 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA. On Thursday, he changed the placement of his left foot on the pitching rubber and said that the slight adjustment made a difference.
“It made it easier to pitch outside,” he said. “It was difficult at first, but as I went on, I got into a rhythm.”
Kazmir will face Oakland rookie Joe Blanton, who is looking for his first major league win. Blanton, who made three relief appearances last season, allowed three earned runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings of Oakland’s 8-4 win over the San Francisco Giants on Friday.
“It looked like he was cruising pretty good,” manager Ken Macha said. “It’s a little disappointing (he couldn’t get the win).”
The Devil Rays beat the Athletics 5-4 in Tuesday’s series opener. Josh Phelps went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs for the Devil Rays, who were coming off a 2-8 road trip.