Oakland (51-47) at Tampa Bay (57-40)

Fair Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Mon Jul 21, 2008
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Tampa Bay Rays ace Scott Kazmir is set to make his first start since earning a win in the All-Star game.

The Oakland Athletics did not have a position player in that contest, and their lack of pop at the plate has been particularly evident over the past week.

Kazmir looks to saddle the Athletics with their sixth straight loss when he takes the mound for the AL East-leading Rays in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.

Two days after a 104-pitch outing for Tampa Bay (57-40), Kazmir (7-5, 3.04 ERA) was needed in a pinch for the American League as Tuesday’s All-Star game lasted 15 innings. He pitched the final frame, striking out one before the AL won 4-3 in the longest All-Star game ever.

Rays manager Joe Maddon contemplated starting Kazmir on Sunday, but decided to give him another day of rest. Kazmir’s last start was his worst of the season, allowing five runs and eight hits in six innings as Tampa Bay lost 5-2 to Cleveland on July 13.

The left-hander is 1-4 in seven starts since June 11 following a six-game winning streak, but he’s gotten a total of three runs to work with in his last three outings.

Kazmir was outstanding against the A’s (51-47) on May 20, giving up one run and four hits while striking out eight in seven innings of a 3-2 win. He is 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA in nine starts against Oakland.

He’ll be facing an A’s team that has been terrible at the plate during a season-high five-game losing streak, averaging 1.8 runs a contest.

Oakland managed five hits in a 2-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday.

The A’s, with starting first baseman Daric Barton (neck) on the disabled list, were also without his backup, Wes Bankston (cramps). Jack Hannahan played first Sunday, going 1-for-3, and would likely start in the opener of this series if Bankston still can’t play.

Oakland’s injury problems at first base won’t help a lineup that has struggled to give its pitchers run support.

Dana Eveland (7-6, 3.49), who will take the mound for the A’s on Monday, was the losing pitcher in his last outing despite throwing well. He gave up two runs, five hits and five walks while striking out five in 5 1-3 innings as Oakland lost 4-1 to the Los Angeles Angels on July 12.

Eveland is 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA in his last seven starts.

The left-hander’s first appearance against Tampa Bay was on May 21, and he pitched a complete game in a 9-1 win. He allowed three hits while striking out five.

“They have a tough lineup, regardless,” Eveland told the A’s official Web site. “I feel like I’ve beaten them before, so .. it helps a little bit. But I know I’ve got my work cut out for me. You never know what’s going to happen, what lineup’s going to show up.”

The Rays have also had problems at the plate in recent weeks. Tampa Bay was shut out twice during a seven-game losing streak before winning its next two, then lost 9-4 to Toronto on Sunday.

Tampa Bay, trying to hold off Boston in the AL East, will look to bounce back with another successful series against the A’s. The Rays won two of three games at Oakland from May 19-21.

Troy Percival earned a save in each of Tampa Bay’s wins in that series, and will be available to pitch after being activated from the 15-day DL on Sunday. The right-hander, who had been out since July 2 with a strained left hamstring, entered in the ninth against the Blue Jays and did not allow a run.

“He’s feeling stronger and better,” Maddon said. “It’s great to have him back. He’s chomping at the bit.”

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Starting Pitchers

D. Eveland Bal vs. S. Kazmir Hou
9-9 Record 12-8
4.34 ERA 3.49
118 K 166
77 BB 70
1.48 WHIP 1.27


Monday, Jul 21