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News » White Sox-Rays Preview 2009-04-18

White Sox-Rays Preview 2009-04-18

White Sox-Rays Preview 2009-04-18
The last time Scott Kazmir squared off against Mark Buehrle, the Tampa Bay Rays took control of the teams' AL division series.

The two ace left-handers will meet for the first time since that encounter when the Rays (5-6) and Chicago White Sox (5-5) continue their four-game series Saturday night at Tropicana Field.

Both pitchers took the mound for Game 2 of last year's playoffs and Kazmir (2-0, 2.84 ERA) pitched Tampa Bay to a 6-2 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series. It was his only win in five starts that postseason and came after he survived a 37-pitch first inning in which he gave up both runs. He lasted 4 1-3 more innings for the victory.

"It was a battle the whole time," Kazmir said after that start. "It was just me not really trusting myself."

Buehrle (1-0, 2.38) gave up five runs over seven-plus innings for the loss in his only postseason start of 2008.

Each pitcher is off to a solid start this year. Kazmir has won both of his outings, including Monday's 15-5 victory over the New York Yankees in which he surrendered three runs in 6 2-3 innings.

Not including the postseason, Kazmir is 3-1 with a 3.34 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox. Chicago slugger Jim Thome is 0-for-13 with five strikeouts against Kazmir, not counting his 1-for-3 effort with an RBI single in the playoff game last year.

Buehrle also hasn't lost in two outings, earning his first win Sunday against Minnesota. He gave up one run and two hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 6-1 victory.

"I keep telling guys velocity is not important, it's all about movement," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski about Buehrle. "Today he really bought in. He made one mistake and other than that, he was pretty darn good."

Buehrle is 4-2 with a 4.22 ERA in 10 career regular-season starts against the Rays, but Tampa Bay left fielder Carl Crawford has enjoyed plenty of success against him. Crawford is 10-for-21 versus Buehrle, not including his 2-for-4 showing in the postseason.

The White Sox starter will likely get a chance to face the red-hot Carlos Pena, who did not see action in Game 2 last year. The left-handed Pena is 11-for-35 with one homer against Buehrle, and has five homers in his last six games entering Saturday.

Pena homered for the third straight game Friday and Ben Zobrist had a pinch-hit grand slam to lead Tampa Bay to a 6-5 victory to even this series at a game apiece. Zobrist's shot off Matt Thornton in the sixth inning erased a 5-2 deficit as the Rays avoided a fourth straight home loss.

"Our guys believe. We know that we can do this. We know that we're going to hit better as the season is in progress," manager Joe Maddon said. "We know the bullpen's going to be all right, we know the starting pitching is good."

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria went 1-for-4 with a sixth-inning double that extended his hitting streak to nine games. He rejoined the team after missing two games because of a death in the family.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 18, 2009

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