Tampa Bay’s Scott Kazmir likes pitching against the AL East powerhouses, and the Devil Rays no doubt like having him on the mound against them.
Kazmir looks to build off his first career complete game Saturday when the Devil Rays continue their three-game series with the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field.
Kazmir (10-5, 3.29 ERA) allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in a two-hit, 3-0 win Monday over Josh Beckett and the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. The 22-year-old left-hander, who was selected as Tampa Bay’s lone representative to the AL All-Star team a day earlier, became the youngest pitcher to reach 10 wins this early in a season since John Smoltz did it for Atlanta at 22 in 1989.
“He responds well to things like that. He responds well to positive reinforcement. He responds well when people show confidence in him,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I really think the All-Star selection, combined with playing this game tonight in front of this crowd, elevated him a bit.”
Kazmir improved to 3-1 against the Red Sox this season and 5-2 for his career. He is 1-2 in four career appearances, including three starts, against the Yankees, but owns a 3.43 ERA against them.
Kazmir, who has received just eight total runs of support in his outings against the Yankees, allowed four runs in five innings of a 9-1 loss April 25.
“I try to go out with the same feeling every time I go out there, but sometimes you just can’t help it with the atmosphere that’s around playing those teams,” Kazmir said. “It’s a special atmosphere.”
The Devil Rays (38-49) lost their second straight on Friday, falling 1-0 in the series opener. Tampa Bay, which came into the series having taken three of four from the Red Sox, managed just four hits—including two in its first two at-bats of the game.
Bernie Williams went 2-for-3 and drove in the only run for the Yankees (49-35), who won their third straight. Williams is 79-for-211 (.374) all-time at Tropicana Field and 7-for-16 (.438) against the Devil Rays this season. He is hitting 64-for-240 (.267) against everyone else.
“I can’t figure it out,” manager Joe Torre said of Williams’ success at Tropicana. “Sometimes different players see balls indoors better than others. That’s a mystery we’ll never solve.”
Center fielder Johnny Damon missed his second straight game with soreness in his right side, but took batting practice and hopes to return to the lineup this weekend.
The victory was the 1,925th in Torre’s career, leaving him one behind Casey Stengel for 10th on the all-time list.
Wang had lasted at least seven innings in each of his previous five starts, going 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA over that span.
He is 1-3 with a 5.93 ERA in five career starts against the Devil Rays. He did not get a decision against them April 26, when he allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings of the Yankees’ 10-inning, 4-2 loss.