Baseball Thinking

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation – Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays come into Fenway for a three game series beginning Tuesday at 7:05. The Rays are 7-6, two games behind Boston in the AL East. The pitching match ups are as follows: Casey Fossum (L) vs. Matt Clement (R); Curt Schilling (R) vs. Doug Waechter (R); Tim Wakefield (R) vs. Scott Kazmir (L). The Rays swept the Kansas City Royals over the weekend. Tampa Bay has shown patience at the plate, leading MLB in walks. Carl Crawford will face Matt Clement Tuesday, nine months after hitting a stinging line drive that hit Clement in the head. Clement faced Tampa Bay on August 29th and received the W in a 12-3 Sox win at Fenway. Casey Fossum is in his second season with the Devil Rays, after a one year stint with Arizona. He is just 28, but seems as if he’s been around a lot longer. Jonny Gomes is off to a hot start, hitting .300, with 5 HR and 14 RBI. Third baseman Ty Wiggington is also warm, hitting .293 with 5 HR and 13 RBI. Tim Wakefield is 7-0, with a 3.18 ERA vs. Tampa since 2003. The current Sox lineup has hit Fossum at a .241 clip, Waechter at a hit happy .339 pace and Kazmir at .214. “Three Dog” is the new nickname for Crawford, given for his propensity for the triple. He had 19 during the 2004 season, 15 in 2005, and already has one this year. Jorge Cantu has 1 HR and 8 RBI, while batting .258 thus far. He is coming of a fine performance in the World Baseball Classic. The Rays have hit 19 home runs in their first 13 games, a record for their franchise. That puts them 3rd in the AL. In comparison, the Sox have hit only 12 (thrid from the bottom in the AL). On the other end of the spectrum, the Sox has a staff ERA of 3.96, good for 2nd in the AL, while the Rays have a combined 5.84 ERA, next to last in the AL. Six of the 7 Devil Ray victories have been of the come-from-behind variety. Keep an eye on Russell Branyan, who is hitting .364 3/7 against Matt Clement.

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