The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have had minimal success on the road the past few years, and playing at the Metrodome has usually been difficult for them.
After a rare victory, though, the Devil Rays (4-6) try to win two straight in Minnesota for the first time in nearly three years when they continue their four-game series against the Twins on Saturday.
“I’m up for the challenge,” Kazmir said. “I always am. Just being alongside Santana is nice company.”
The Devil Rays also improved to 3-4 on the road with the victory, a step in the right direction for a team that lost a franchise-record and league-high 61 road games last year. Tampa Bay is a major-league worst 131-280 on the road since the start of 2002, losing 22 of 26 in Minnesota over that span.
Friday’s win snapped a 10-game skid at the Metrodome, where they have not won consecutive games there since June 2-3, 2004.
Carl Crawford’s hit an inside-the-park home run Friday, and manager Joe Maddon was impressed with the way his young outfielder bounced back after an embarrassing base-running blunder leading to a ninth-inning double play in Thursday’s 3-2 loss.
“That speaks to the resiliency of our boys right now,” Maddon said.
Tampa Bay, which leads the majors with 16 homers, also matched a team record by hitting a home run in 10 straight games - first done from Sept. 18-28, 2000.
The Devil Rays surging offense looks to take advantage Sidney Ponson (0-1, 12.71 ERA), who was awful in his Twins debut. Ponson gave up eight runs and 10 hits - including two home runs - in 5 2-3 innings of Monday’s 8-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
“That’s not the way I wanted to start the season with the Twins,” Ponson told the team’s official Web site. “I didn’t pitch good. The line will tell you that. I go out there to win ballgames, and I put the guys in a hole to start the game. That’s not fun. Hopefully, my next start I won’t do that.”
Ponson, though, hasn’t had much success against the Devil Rays. He didn’t face them last year, but went 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three starts against them in 2005 with Baltimore. The right-hander is 6-8 with a 4.34 ERA in 21 career starts against them.
Tampa Bay counters with Edwin Jackson (0-1, 6.35), who gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of his season debut Monday in an 8-4 loss to Texas. The right-hander struck out four and walked just one in his first start since April 22.
In three relief appearances against Minnesota last season, Jackson allowed six runs and three walks in 2 1-3 innings for a 23.14 ERA.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP, hit his fourth home run Friday. Morneau is batting .360 (27-for-75) with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 20 career games against the Devil Rays.