D-Rays 5, Texas 3. Scott Kazmir was betrayed by his defense and left last night’s game down 3-1, after 6 innings and 101 pitches. Kid K is now on a “innings count” and will most likely not see the 7th inning the rest of the season. Kazmir already has 144.2 innings in his arm this season and is approaching his total from last season when threw 186 innings. With about 5 more starts left for Kaz in 2006, it looks like Joe Maddon would like to keep this year’s total below last season’s with the hopes that he will come into ’07 fresh and strong. On a side note, with 8 strikeouts, Kid K surpassed Victor Zambrano as the team’s all-time strikeout leader. Now he is only 5336 behind Nolan Ryan. B. J. Upton was a late scratch from the lineup as he is still battling a sore shoulder. Russell Branyan replaced Upton at third base and as a third baseman, he sure makes a great DH. In the third inning Nelson Cruz reached when Branyan couldn’t field a grounder down the line cleanly. It was a tough error, but a play that he should have made. Jerry Hairston, Jr. then reached on a bunt single that Branyan could not get to in time. The very next batter grounded into the hole between Branyan and Ben Zobrist. Moving towards the second base base, Branyan decided to go to first base, allowing the runners to move to 2nd and 3rd. A Michael Young basehit scored two. After Kaz struck out Carlos Lee, Mark Teixeira grounded softly to the left of Tomas Perez, who fielded the ball cleanly but instead of turning and throwing to Travis Lee, he decided to backhand the ball from about 20 feet away, allowing Teixeira to reach first and the Rangers to score a third run. It was ruled a base hit. Three of the four hits that Kazmir allowed came in this inning and two of those were of the infield variety, and one of those should have been ruled an error. Kazmir was bailed out by the offense. The first blow came from he bat of Greg Norton who is doing his best Albert Pujols impersonation in August. Last night he went 2-3 and hit his 11th home run, a solo shot to lead off the 4th. In the month of August, Norton leads the Major Leagues in batting average at .446 and has 5 home runs. Three sacrifice flies in the sixth and seventh innings gave the Rays the lead and a Travis Lee
solo home run in the eighth was added as an insurance run. Seth McClung made things interesting in the ninth when he came on for his second save opportunity in as many nights. After loading the bases with one out, McClung was able to get Gary Matthews Jr. out on strikes and Michael Young to fly out to Damon Hollins to end the game.
This victory marked only the third time since the All-Star break that the Rays have managed to win back-to-back games. They have not won three in a row since taking 3 straight from the Red Sox just before the break. We don’t want to jinx Casey Fossum, tonight’s starter, but he has been pitching well of late *knocking on wood*.