With the Rangers and Angels currently on their way to blowout losses, the A's open a three-game series tonight against the Devil Rays, sending Joe Blanton to the mound against one of the league's better young arms, lefty Scott Kazmir.
Now 22, Kazmir enters his second full season in the major leagues, after posting a 3.77 ERA with 174 Ks in 186 innings last year. However, in 2005 Kazmir also issued 100 BBs, leading to a WHIP of 1.46. Conclusion: definitely a pitcher you'd rather miss than get in a series, but also an opponent who could feed right into the A's strengths. Even if the A's don't hit or score much against Kazmir, keep an eye on the pitch count. Walks and strikeouts both elevate the pitch count quickly, and the Devil Rays' bullpen is far from an asset. It might be chilly at the Coliseum tonight, so if the A's knock Kazmir out someone might want to use him as a sweater. Anyone get that?
Tonight's starting lineups feature two noteworthy developments: The return of Bobby Crosby to the controversial 3-hole, and Bobby Kielty batting 9th against a left-handed pitcher: