Tampa Bay (69-58) at Detroit (68-59)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 55° F
  • Game info: 4:10 pm EDT Sat Aug 29, 2009
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Following the surprising trade of Scott Kazmir(notes), the Tampa Bay Rays’ season has reached a crossroads with 35 games remaining.

The defending AL champions try to refocus as they head into Saturday’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

With an eye on the future to keep their talented young nucleus together while also trying to remain in contention for the wild card, the Rays dealt Kazmir - arguably the first staff ace in their young franchise history and one of their highest-paid players - to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night for two minor league prospects and another one to be named.

Since the Rays (69-58) are within 4 1/2 games of Boston for the wild-card spot and Kazmir was 4-1 in his last six starts, the deal with the AL West leaders caught players off-guard.

“I don’t know what to say, because he’s been pitching well,” Rays teammate Carl Crawford(notes) said. “It surprises me to see Kaz go, because of everything he’s meant to the organization.”

In addition to moving past the trade, the Rays are trying to regroup from Friday’s 6-2 loss to Detroit (68-59) in the opener of this four-game series. Brandon Inge(notes) homered for the Tigers, who broke open the game with consecutive two-run doubles in a five-run fourth by Gerald Laird(notes) and Adam Everett(notes) - their Nos. 8 and 9 hitters - after Aubrey Huff(notes) and Carlos Guillen(notes) walked and Inge singled to load the bases.

“The two walks are what cost me the game,” losing Rays pitcher Matt Garza(notes) said. “I walk those two guys, Inge singles, Laird hits a bloop and Everett rolls one down the line. That happens, but the walks are what really killed me.”

David Price(notes) (6-6, 4.93 ERA) takes the ball for the Rays, once more trying for his first career road win. While dominant at home, the left-hander has been horrid on the road, where he is 0-4 with an 8.07 ERA in seven starts in 2009 - giving up at least five runs in each of his last five.

He yielded three runs, three hits and three walks in seven innings of a 4-0 loss to Texas on Sunday, the second time in three starts the Rays failed to provide him any runs. Price pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances versus the Tigers as a rookie last year.

Detroit, which has won nine of 14, turns to Nate Robertson(notes) (1-0, 7.71) as it tries to extend its 4 1/2-game lead atop the AL Central. The left-hander, filling injured Armando Galarraga’s(notes) spot in the rotation, recently completed a minor league rehab stint with Triple-A Toledo following surgery in June to remove tissue mass from his throwing elbow.

Robertson went 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in five starts for the Mud Hens and struck out nine in 6 2-3 shutout innings Tuesday, throwing 38 of his first 41 pitches for strikes.

“He threw strikes. He had good command of his pitches,” general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Tigers’ official Web site. “His slider was very good. His changeup was very good. He feels healthy.”

Robertson, who made 21 relief appearances prior to the surgery, is 0-3 in five lifetime starts against the Rays, whom he has not faced since 2007.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Price Det vs. N. Robertson Det
10-7 Record 2-3
4.42 ERA 5.44
102 K 35
54 BB 28
1.35 WHIP 1.75

Scoreboard

Saturday, Aug 29