Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays and Scott Kazmir get back on their feet with an 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays

Scott Kazmir, delivering in the first, settled into a groove after giving up a third-inning homer, striking out seven.


Scott Kazmir, delivering in the first, settled into a groove after giving up a third-inning homer, striking out seven.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were at one of those points where they just needed a win — mentally, mathematically, something to snap their five-game losing streak and the funk that had come with it.

They needed one be it a well-pitched game by Scott Kazmir, a breakout night by the offense, nifty glove work, aggressive base- running, quality relief, even extraterrestrial assistance from the more interestingly dressed members of the Sci-Fi Night crowd.

They got it all Saturday, beaming as they left the Trop after blasting the Blue Jays 8-3.

"It was big," Kazmir said. "It's always big to end a losing streak, especially at this point of the season, where we're at. I think if we can string a couple more games together like this, I think we can feel confident, a lot more confident about ourselves, and make a push."

The win kept the Rays within pushing distance; they improved to 62-54 and moved within four games of the American League wild-card lead. And before the B-52s turned the Trop into their Love Shack, the Rays improved to 14-1 on concert nights before 29,632.

Kazmir shook off a shaky beginning and a swerve at the end to deliver the quality start the Rays badly needed, working into the seventh and allowing only three runs. The bullpen took it from there, with new acquisition Russ Springer working out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh.

Nos. 2-3-4 hitters Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist combined for half of their 12 hits as the Rays took control with a four-run third and tacked on from there, scoring more than they had in their past three games combined.

Mix in some heads-up work in the field and on the bases, and 22/3 more scoreless innings by the pen, and this was more like what they have to do over the final 46 games.

"It's more of what we're looking for, no question, more of a complete game," manager Joe Maddon said.

"And we need that to start building our confidence back up. It's funny how this whole thing works: You could be playing great or playing well, and you have a couple bad games, and the confidence wanes very quickly. It's really strange how we as humans permit that to happen. We need to rebuild it up, and I thought that was a good first step."

Kazmir, who followed two encouraging outings with a clunker Aug. 9 in Seattle, didn't start well, walking two of the first three. But he stepped off the mound to refocus on finishing his pitches and got into a rhythm that was noticeably different.

His only regret was a 1-and-2 slider he hung to Aaron Hill that became a two-run homer in the third, but from there he got even sharper, retiring 11 of the next 12, including a seven-pitch fifth and striking out the side in the sixth.

"A lot better than Seattle," he said. "I'll take that outing."

With the season-high-matching skid behind them, the Rays had a lot of things to feel good about. "It's never fun losing that many games in a row," Maddon said. "We just strung together a pretty good game tonight."

Rays 8

Blue Jays 3

Tampa Bay Rays and Scott Kazmir get back on their feet with an 8-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays 08/15/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 12:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College basketball scandal dips into Tampa Bay


    Tuesday's national college basketball scandal has recruiting ties to Tampa Bay.

    In this March 15, 2012, file photo, San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland, left, talks during NCAA college basketball practice in Columbus, Ohio. Bland was identified in court papers, and is among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File]
  2. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in


    The Rays open their final road series of the season tonight at Yankee Stadium, which is also where they played their first of the season.

    LHP Blake Snell will be on the mound for the Rays, looking to continue his successful late-season run, in which he is 4-0, 2,57 over his last eight starts.

    Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
  4. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments


    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Alex Volkov with a top-six showcase for Lightning


    Alex Volkov entered Lightning camp a bit of an unknown, the second-round pick from Russia in his first NHL camp.

    Alex Volkov (79) works to stop Florida Panthers center Denis Malgin (62) during the second period of Sunday's game in Tampa.