With Boston’s two sluggers out of the lineup in the same game for the first time this season, Tampa Bay’s ace struck out 10 and scattered five singles in seven innings in a 1-0 win over the Red Sox on Monday night.
“They threw a different lineup out there, took away a lot of the lefties,” said Kazmir (12-8), who let just two runners reach second base. “It was nice to see Big Papi out of the lineup.”
The Devil Rays’ left-hander has been sharp against both power hitters. Ramirez is batting .154 against him (6-for-39) and Ortiz is hitting .147 (5-for-34). Ramirez, who hits right-handed, missed his 13th straight game with a strained muscle in his left side. Ortiz, a lefty batter, has a sore right knee and taking a night off against his nemesis made sense, although he grounded out as a pinch hitter in the ninth against Al Reyes.
But they can change the game with one swing.
Dustin Pedroia, batting third in Ortiz’s place, was retired three times with one out—twice with runners at second and once with a man at first. Mike Lowell, hitting in Ramirez’s cleanup spot, went 0-for-4, ending three innings by striking out and leaving a runner at second in the first and eighth.
Right fielder J.D. Drew, another lefty, also sat out.
“Other than that, we had the regular guys,” Coco Crisp said. Kazmir “is good pretty much all the time.”
In nine career starts in Boston, he’s 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 52 2-3 innings. On July 29, he blanked the Red Sox here before coming out after six innings. On Monday, he threw a season-high 118 pitches.
Curt Schilling (8-7) struck out five and allowed one run, five hits and a walk in six innings.
“We have to play fundamental baseball and we were able to do that,” Norton said. “We were able to come out with a 1-0 victory, which doesn’t happen too often in Boston.”
“I was in a position to get a strikeout against Wilson,” Schilling said. “I probably should have made a pitch (catcher Jason Varitek) wanted originally.”
The game “was well pitched on both sides,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “It really had that playoff kind of atmosphere.”
Maddon used that to motivate Kazmir when he visited the mound after the lefty walked Varitek to put runners at first and second with one out in the seventh.
“I said, `This is not a normal game. This is a playoff game.’ That’s what I whispered in his ear,” Maddon said. “I wanted him to get used to this stuff.”
“It pumped me up,” Kazmir said. “I was going on adrenaline to begin with, but that intensified it.”
Tampa Bay is 13-4 in its last 17 games but is in last place in the AL East. Boston is 7-3 in its last 10 games, but its lead in the division dropped to five games over the Yankees, who were idle.
Just sixteen days after setting a franchise record with 13 strikeouts, Kazmir fanned at least 10 for the fourth time this season and 12th in his career. When he struck out Crisp in the first after a leadoff single by Julio Lugo, Kazmir became the eighth active pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in a season by the age of 23.
Besides Lugo, who advanced on a two-out wild pitch, the only Boston runner to reach second against him was Bobby Kielty on a leadoff single in the seventh and a one-out walk to Varitek.
“He had electric stuff,” Varitek said
Dan Wheeler pitched the eighth and Reyes got his 24th save in 26 chances with a perfect ninth.
Kazmir allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in five of his seven innings and retired the side in order just once, in the second, one of the five innings in which he recorded two strikeouts.
Ellsbury has hit safely in all 10 games since being recalled on Sept. 1. He singled in the third inning. … Of the eight active pitchers with 200 strikeouts in a season by the age of 23, Kerry Wood was the youngest when he did it at 21, fanning 233 in 1998. … Cora went 0-for-3 and is hitless in his last 14 at-bats. … Navarro’s two sacrifice bunts gave him seven for the season, second most for Tampa Bay. … Kazmir’s 16 starts against Boston are the most he’s made against any team. … Lowell is in a 3-for-27 slump that lowered his batting average to .321. … Boston RHP Mike Timlin pitched in his 1,003rd game, passing Rich Gossage to move into 12th place all-time.