Having posted three complete-game victories in as many starts against the Rays (28-33), Maddux looks to help the Padres (36-26) bounce back from a weekend sweep when he matches up with Scott Kazmir and Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.
Maddux (5-3, 3.82 ERA) hasn’t faced the Devil Rays since July 17, 2001, but has shut them out twice and compiled a 0.67 ERA in the three starts—his lowest against any opponent. The right-hander has struck out 23 and walked two in those three outings.
The future Hall of Famer has thrown only seven complete games in 198 starts since that last matchup with Tampa Bay, a 4-0 victory in which he struck out nine with no walks at Turner Field.
Complete game or not, the Padres are just hoping Maddux can give them a strong enough outing to help them avoid a season-high fourth straight loss. San Diego, percentage points ahead of Arizona for the NL West lead, lost all three games at home to Seattle over the weekend, capped by closer Trevor Hoffman allowing a ninth-inning unearned run in a 4-3 defeat Sunday.
Hoffman’s streak of 16 1-3 scoreless innings over 17 appearances was snapped.
“Obviously it was a tough weekend, obviously not a weekend we’d like to remember,” second baseman Marcus Giles told the team’s official Web site. “Looking forward to a day off tomorrow and a good road trip starting up in Tampa. Main thing, we just keep our heads up and forget about this weekend.”
It was Hoffman’s second appearance since earning his 500th save in Maddux’s last start, a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Maddux allowed two runs, five hits and a walk in 6 1-3 innings in that contest. The four-time NL Cy Young Award winner has won four of his last five starts and can win three straight decisions for the first time since going 5-0 in eight starts from July 24-Aug. 30.
One of baseball’s most efficient pitchers, Maddux hasn’t thrown more than 97 pitches in a start this season and is averaging 80.5 pitches in just over six innings per outing—making him nearly the opposite of Kazmir (4-3, 3.92).
The Rays’ young left-hander has thrown at least 100 pitches in all but one of his 13 starts, and is averaging 107.7 pitches in six innings per contest.
Kazmir was helped by the bullpen in his last start Wednesday, as he gave up two runs in five innings before Tampa Bay’s relievers allowed just three hits in four scoreless innings of a 6-2 victory over Toronto.
The left-hander’s pitch count was up again, as he threw 103 and allowed six hits and five walks while striking out four.
“He’s just so close to really taking off,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s just going to be one appearance that all of a sudden everything clicks.”
Kazmir is 0-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 11 home starts since his last Tropicana Field win July 3.
The Padres will be facing a surging Tampa Bay club that took two of three from Florida over the weekend and is 4-1 in its last five. The Devil Rays got a career-high five RBIs from shortstop Brendan Harris and seven strong innings from rookie Andy Sonnanstine in a 9-4 victory over the Marlins on Sunday.
The Rays swept a three-game set with San Diego from June 15-17, 2004 at Petco Park, improving them to 4-2 in the all-time series.
“We’re going to have to go down there and pitch well and swing the bats better than they are,” Padres catcher Josh Bard said. “Tampa’s a very underrated team.”