Devil Rays 9, Mariners 0
SEATTLE (AP)—Scott Kazmir’s major league debut was everything he always imagined.
“Man, this is a dream come true, it really is,” Kazmir said with a grin after being drenched with champagne by his teammates in the clubhouse. “I was really nervous. I was looking at the crowd and everything.”
The Devil Rays ended a six-game road losing streak and won for only the second time in their last 17 away from home.
Kazmir was acquired July 30 in a trade that sent right-hander Victor Zambrano to the New York Mets. Considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, the 20-year-old left-hander gave up four hits, walked three and struck out four.
Kazmir (1-0) was called up earlier in the day from Double-A Montgomery to join the Devil Rays’ rotation for the final six weeks of the season. Manager Lou Piniella said Kazmir was being given an audition for a spot in the 2005 rotation.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Kazmir’s fastball reached 96 mph on the Safeco Field radar gun. He was lifted after throwing 101 pitches, 56 for strikes.
Kazmir’s first batter was speedy All-Star Ichiro Suzuki, who leads the AL with a .369 average. He grounded out to shortstop on a 1-2 pitch.
“I kind of settled in and felt a little bit more comfortable, especially when I got Ichiro out,” Kazmir said. “That took a load off me. I didn’t even make eye contact with him. I just imagined that he wasn’t even there.”
Piniella didn’t have much to say to Kazmir before the game. His second start will come Sunday in Oakland.
“What we wanted from him more than anything else was command of the strike zone,” Piniella said. “I think for a young pitcher, you overload the circuit. So just get the ball over the plate with good stuff and let that take care of itself.”
Piniella, 60, can’t get over how young the fresh-faced Kazmir looks.
“Some of our players didn’t recognize that he was the young man who was joining our team on the airplane coming here. So imagine if he looks young to the players, how young he looks to me,” Piniella said.
Suzuki went 1-for-4 with a single, his 198th hit of the season, most in the majors.
Cruz, in his first season with Tampa Bay after playing in San Francisco last season, capped a four-run sixth with his 18th homer of the season off Bobby Madritsch (3-1).
Cruz then hit the first pitch from Madritsch off the left-field foul pole. It was his 10th career homer against Seattle, his first major league team. The Mariners shipped him to Toronto at the 1997 trade deadline.
“It’s good to come back to Seattle, where everything started for me and a lot of things are familiar to you,” Cruz said. “For me, there are still some guys I know on the other side.”
The Devil Rays sent nine batters to the plate in the eighth against Clint Nageotte and scored five more runs. Cruz had a run-scoring single for his fourth RBI. Toby Hall added a sacrifice fly, Geoff Blum had an RBI single and Rey Sanchez doubled in the final two runs.
Madritsch, making his fourth start and second against Tampa Bay since being called up from Triple-A Tacoma on July 21, pitched seven innings and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks, with six strikeouts.
“Bobby really pitched well,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. “The one ball that was hit really good was pretty timely. It looked like it was going to hook foul, but it stopped hooking and hit the foul pole.”
Piniella improved his record to 12-11 against the Mariners, the team he managed for 10 seasons before asking out of his contract to return to his hometown after the 2002 season.
Mariners closer Eddie Guardado is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus. The operation will be performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Lewis Yocum, team physician of the Anaheim Angels. Guardado, 33, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 1 with a tired left shoulder. … Edgar Martinez of the Mariners hit his 511th double, tying him with Mark Grace for 33rd on the career list.