When considering all possible outcomes before the season began, I would venture to guess that the Yanks would have signed up for that production without much hesitation. Historically a second half pitcher, now is the time of year that the big fella tends to find his stride. He's thrown 14 innings since the All-Star Break, allowed 3 runs and accumulated two wins. He was just getting warmed up before.
Going to the mound for the Rays will be their quondam lefty ace, Scott Kazmir. To call the 25 year old's performance so far this year "disappointing" would be a gross understatement. Although he's pitched only one truly full season in the Major Leagues, Kazmir has contributed significant value to Tampa Bay's rotation since he was called up to the Big League club in 2004 as a 20 year old. After completion of the 2008 schedule, he had pitched 722 regular season innings to a 3.61 ERA while striking out over one batter per inning. He fit the billing of the Rays' ace by general consensus entering the season; a lefty strikeout machine who, if he could ever make 35 starts or learn to control his pitch count, would be deadly.
He's certainly not going to make 35 starts this year, because he's already spend time on the DL and is only at 14. Given how poorly he's pitched, that's probably a good thing for the Rays. Kazmir's ERA is a gruesome 6.69 and his WHIP a ghastly 1.716. He's averaging fewer than 5 innings per start and has almost as many ER (55) as Ks (58). For a pitcher with a lifetime 9.5 K/9 ratio, that's bad news. His stint on the DL was officially caused by a quadriceps strain, but my skeptical side thinks he might, like Chien Ming Wang did, have had a nasty case of Badpitcheritis.
Kazmir has historically fared well against the Yanks, with a 2.65 ERA over 12 starts, but only a 5-4 record due primarily to his inability to go deep into games. He's also about a half of a run better at Tropicana Field than away from it, so it wouldn't be entirely shocking if he found his groove tonight. I would be surprised if he went more than 6 innings though, because he's only done it three times this year and the Yanks tend to work the count.
Rays fans might not recognize the 2009 version of Scott Kazmir, and who could blame them? Certainly not Brother Ray himself.
And anyone can tell,
You think you know me well -
Well, you don't know me.
(No you don't know me)