Rays' Kazmir struggling with patient Red Sox

Updated: October 10, 2008

The Rays' Scott Kazmir, right, draws Red Sox postseason ace Josh Beckett in ALCS Game 2.



Red Sox at Rays
8 p.m. ET, ESPN Radio
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There is no team that Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir is more familiar with than Boston. Kazmir has faced the AL East rival Red Sox 21 times, eight more than any other team -- and the results haven't been pretty over the past two seasons. Dustin Pedroia (14-25 against Kazmir) has only added to the left-hander's misery.

Look for the Red Sox to try to run up Kazmir's pitch count. In four starts against Boston in 2008, Kazmir is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA, walking 14 batters in 18 innings.

Kazmir: Career vs. Red Sox
  2004-06 2007-08
W-L 5-2 1-5
ERA 2.60 4.86
BB per 9 4.2 5.2
HR allowed 5 7
Starts 11 10

Josh Beckett, Boston's Game 2 starter, is 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA in five starts against the Rays this season, recording 37 strikeouts in 35 innings.

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Although he struggled badly with the bat in the ALDS, Dustin Pedroia is an extraordinary player and his passion for the game is obvious. If anyone was anxious to get this series under way, it was probably him. Pedroia likely wanted it to start the day after the last series ended. He's a fighter, and even though he had a bit of a soft series against the Angels, he's the kind of player who could carry the Red Sox in the ALCS. He doesn't have a weak mind and won't get down on himself worrying about a slump.

Pedroia's always had to fight the perception that he's too small, too slow, his arm too weak. He lives for the challenge, and if there are people thinking he'll continue to struggle, that's only going to help him.



Shane Victorino has been the spark plug for the Phillies for a while now, and Friday was certainly no exception. He is, simply put, a baseball player who makes plays. He hit a grand slam in the Division Series, forced the error on Rafael Furcal in NLCS Game 1 with his hustle, and had four RBIs and a great catch against the wall in NLCS Game 2.

As much as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who had MVP-caliber seasons, it's been Victorino's speed, bat and defense that has them where they are right now. What's also interesting about the Phillies is that their unlikely heroes -- Pat Burrell, Victorino and Carlos Ruiz -- have been big factors for them in different ways. And if the news couldn't get better for the Phillies, they are up 2-0 in the NLCS and Howard hasn't done anything yet. In fact, it's hard to believe that Howard is 2-for-19 this postseason while pitcher Brett Myers is 4-for-5.


Phillies at Dodgers
Sun. 8 p.m. ET, ESPN Radio
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Manager Charlie Manuel had been batting Victorino sixth before moving him to the two-spot in the NLDS -- and Victorino has more than met the challenge. I think Manuel might have been concerned that the switch might change Victorino's approach at the plate. But because the bottom-third of the Phillies order has been so successful, Victorino can just swing and be aggressive. He hustles all the time, can steal a base and has no fear of the outfield wall. He even knows how to play to the crowd, and feeds off them, too.

Now, I don't think this series is over. Joe Torre has to be reminding his guys that when they played them in regular season they got swept in Philadelphia and, in turn, swept the Phillies in Los Angeles. So far, things are sticking true to form. The Dodgers just need to take care of business at home and take their chances going back to Citizens Bank Park. Furcal is the key to the Dodgers' chances. He needs to play and play well. As good as he's been, Manny Ramirez needs to have men on base to make a real big impact. James Loney, among others, has been getting quality at-bats, but it's been Manny who carried them down the stretch -- and he needs to continue to do that for them to advance any further.


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Inside EdgeThe Red Sox look to continue their stellar performance against Rays lefty Scott Kazmir on Saturday. Boston has tattooed Kazmir for 19 runs and 24 hits in 18 innings pitched this season. The Red Sox make a habit of abusing left-handed pitching, ranking first in the majors in OPS at .849. Here's a look at the Boston hitters who have been doing the damage:

Kevin Youkilis 1.009
Jed Lowrie .934
J.D. Drew .926
Dustin Pedroia .903
AL average .756



1913: The Philadelphia Athletics win the World Series as Eddie Plank outduels New York Giants pitching great Christy Mathewson in Game 5. Plank allows only two hits in the A's 3-1 victory, giving Philadelphia its third World championship in the last four seasons.

1948: The Cleveland Indians defeat the Boston Braves in Game 6 to win the World Series. Joe Gordon hits a home run in support of future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon, who earns a 4-3 victory -- his second win of the Series.

1967: Boston Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocelli blasts a pair of home runs, highlighting an 8-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth game of the World Series. The Red Sox win forces a seventh and deciding game, which the Cardinals win.

1971: Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles sets a World Series record by reaching base five consecutive times against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Robinson's barrage helps Baltimore to an 11-3 win in Game 2.

1972: Bob Moose of the Pittsburgh Pirates unleashes a ninth-inning wild pitch, giving the Cincinnati Reds a 4-3 win in the decisive fifth game of the National League playoffs. The Bucs had entered the ninth inning with a 3-2 lead before Johnny Bench's solo home run against Dave Giusti tied the game.

2003: The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox play a rowdy game at Fenway Park in Game 3 of the ALCS. In a matchup between ace hurlers Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, the benches clear after Manny Ramirez took exception to a pitch he felt was hurled at his head by Clemens. Among several skirmishes that ensued, Martinez twirled Yankee coach Don Zimmer to the ground. The Yankees prevail, 3-2.