I follow these two youngsters.... and it still really bums me out how this organization handled these two situations.
We know the "story" behind this organization's drafting of Sowers. That we knew we couldn't sign him - which was fine - because this FO figured they didn't have the money to sign any #1 pick that year. It was a sorry effort to make themselves look like they were trying though before the fans.
Who was the pitcher we went after instead of Kazmir? Gruler?
One can only dream of what this rotation would have been like with these two in the organization.
And while the totality of the blame can be directed towards the entire FO Allen & Co), I hope Bowden's girlfriend continues to kick his butt!
Kazmir shuts down Red Sox
Lefty allows just two hits in shutout; Wigginton homers twice
Scott Kazmir lowered his ERA to 3.29 with nine shutout innings on Monday.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Amid the many superlatives being tossed around about Scott Kazmir's performance on Monday night, his catcher, Josh Paul, might have offered the best perspective when he noted: "That's what grunts live for."
Paul enjoyed the privilege of sitting in the rocking chair behind home plate while 26,149 fans at Tropicana Field witnessed the coming of age of the Rays' ace in a 3-0 victory over the Red Sox.
A day after being named to the American League All-Star team, Kazmir pitched a complete-game two-hitter -- the best game of his Major League career -- while striking out 10 en route to his 10th win of the season.
"It's a great feeling just to get the first [complete-game shutout] out of the way," Kazmir said. "It was great. It felt like yesterday, it was kind of a load off my shoulders. Just went out there and had fun."
Kazmir entered the ninth having thrown 106 pitches while allowing a lone single to Alex Gonzalez with one out in the third.
But plenty of suspense remained before the fans could breathe easy and witness the outcome they had hoped for.
Manny Ramirez led off the ninth inning personifying the Red Sox's frustration against Kazmir with his .107 (3-for-28) career average against him. This time Ramirez scorched a line drive to deep center field that Rocco Baldelli couldn't grab, leaving Kazmir to try and protect a 3-0 lead with a runner on second and no outs.
To say Kazmir did not wilt would be a huge understatement.
Jason Varitek batted next and Kazmir cut loose with a 95-mph fastball, which concerned Joe Maddon. Throughout the evening the Rays' manager had observed Kazmir's pitches arriving at home plate at speeds of 92-94 mph and grew worried Kazmir had begun to fall out of his rhythm. Pitching coach Mike Butcher was dispatched to the mound to settle the eager youngster.
"I had to calm it down a little bit," Kazmir said. "I was kind of overthrowing, trying to do too much. But I stayed within myself after Butch came out and talked to me. ... [He told me] just stay within myself, don't do anything extra. Just keep doing what I was doing the whole game. I just kind of took a deep breath and settled down."
He proceeded to strike out Varitek for the fourth time before retiring Mike Lowell on a pop out to first. By the time Gabe Kapler stepped into the batter's box, the crowd cheered wildly for Kazmir to finish it off. And he did just that, getting Kapler to ground out to shortstop Julio Lugo to end the game.
"He's a pretty impressive pitcher, one of the more impressive in the AL," Kapler said. "We saw very few counts go past two balls. He goes after hitters, and we have a lot of respect for him."
The only other time Kazmir got into trouble came in the third, when Lugo booted a potential double-play ball hit by Kevin Youkilis with one out. Kazmir responded to the situation by retiring Mark Loretta on a weak pop to second before battling David Ortiz and eventually walking him to load the bases and bring Ramirez to the plate.
"I was trying to go after [Ortiz]," Kazmir said. "Just kind of overthrew a fastball 3-2, kind of choked it a little bit, but after that I was already done and I was already thinking about what I was going to do with Manny."
Kazmir struck out Ramirez swinging on a slider to end the inning.
"Actually, I haven't had that pitch in quite awhile, so it was a great feeling to actually have a good feel for it," Kazmir said. "Being able to bury it, especially in a crucial situation."
In winning, Kazmir ran his record to 5-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 11 career starts against the Red Sox. Inside Tropicana Field, Kazmir's ERA against the Red Sox is 1.69.
"That was impressive," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He has the explosive fastball that we've seen from Day 1, but now he's mixing in that changeup and that slider. Some of those sliders he threw were about as good as I've seen."
Josh Beckett started for the Red Sox, bringing with him a newly-found penchant for surrendering home runs. Entering the 2006 season, Beckett's career high for home runs given up in a season was 16. Heading into Monday night's start, he'd already given up 20. Ty Wigginton and Russ Branyan expanded that total.
Wigginton deposited a 1-2 Beckett fastball in the left-field stands to give the Rays a 1-0 lead after three innings. Branyan, who has more home runs than singles for the Rays this season, led off the fifth by driving a 2-0 Beckett offering the opposite way for his 10th home run of the season and Wigginton followed with his second home run of the game on a 1-1 pitch from Beckett to push the Rays' lead to 3-0.
In modest fashion, Wigginton deferred all credit to Kazmir.
"He pitched like the All-Star he is today," Wigginton said. "He deserves all the credit. We were just watching the show."
Beckett sounded equally impressed.
"[Kazmir] shut down one of the premier lineups in the world," Beckett said. "He's pitching great. He pitched better than me, that's why they won and we lost."
Sowers settles in, gets first victory
Rookie leads Indians over Yankees in series opener
CLEVELAND -- A soldout crowd of 42,706 fans came to the Indians' game Monday night.
They came to see the Yankees, always a popular draw.
They came to see the postgame fireworks display.
And they came to see what young left-hander Jeremy Sowers could do against baseball's most storied franchise in just his second big-league start.
Forget the fireworks. Sowers stole the show. The 23-year-old's seven fearless innings of work led the Indians to a 5-2 victory over the Yanks in the opener of a four-game set.
As first wins go, this was about the sweetest Sowers could have hoped for.
"The fact that it came against the Yankees probably makes it a little more special," he said. "It couldn't have happened against a more prominent team."
Or in a more congested setting. The crowd was the largest at the ballpark for a regular-season game since Sept. 29, 2000.
In a somewhat-shaky first inning, it looked as though the nerves of pitching in front of a full stadium on eight days' rest might be getting to Sowers. He surrendered a leadoff single to Johnny Damon, then, one batter later, let Jason Giambi tag him with a two-run homer on a full count.
"He did a good job battling and waiting for an eventual mistake," Sowers said of Giambi. "It was a slider on a full count. I tried to get it in the strike zone, and you saw what happened."
Home runs were Sowers' undoing in his previous start against the Reds. In that game, Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn both got to him with two-run blasts that ended up sending him to a loss.
Of course, if one is going to give up three home runs in two starts, Griffey, Dunn and Giambi don't exactly inspire much shame and humiliation.
"I don't even know how many career home runs they have, but it's a lot," Sowers said. "It just goes to show you if you make mistakes against guys like that, they're going to make you pay."
The Yankees wanted to keep making Sowers pay after Giambi's homer.
"When Jason pops one with a two-run jack there," said Alex Rodriguez, "you want to hopefully knock the kid over."
That's where the remarkable poise and confidence possessed by the young finesse pitcher came in handy. Because once Giambi's homer cleared the fence, he cleared his mind of the mistake and moved on.
"He's a very mature young man who knows what he wants to do out there," manager Eric Wedge said. "That was the case tonight."
Yes, it was. Sowers retired the next five batters he faced after the Giambi miscue. He ran into trouble, though, in the third, giving up a one-out double to Damon and single to Derek Jeter, who then swiped second.
"Second and third with one out is not exactly a favorable position for a pitcher, especially for a contact pitcher," Sowers said. "I just had to focus and control the ball."
The renewed focus paid off. Sowers got Giambi to strike out on a foul tip, intentionally walked A-Rod to load the bases, then deposited Bernie Williams on a nasty slider for strike three, inducing a roar from the home crowd.
"That was a big pitch," Wedge said. "He did a real good job going right after [Williams]. Obviously, that was a big part of the ballgame."
Sowers had the command he needed to get his first victory. All he needed was the assistance.
He found it in the bottom of the third. The Indians unloaded on Chien-Ming Wang with an infield RBI single from Jhonny Peralta and a two-out, two-run double from Victor Martinez. They added to that 3-2 lead in the sixth when Todd Hollandsworth launched a two-run shot to the right-field seats.
And as the Tribe offense ignited, Sowers just became more and more effective. The Williams strikeout was the first of eight consecutive outs recorded by Sowers, who would go on to allow just the two runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Of Sowers' 98 pitches, 66 went for strikes.
"He was economical, changed speeds and had movement on the ball," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Sowers. "He threw a lot of strikes. He put the responsibility in our hands by throwing as many strikes as he did."
His outing complete, Sowers headed to the dugout to watch fellow young stalwart Fausto Carmona pitch a scoreless eighth and closer Bob Wickman sweat out a dramatic ninth. When Wickman fielded a grounder to the right of the mound and fired it over to first for the final out, Sowers, who became the first Indians rookie to beat the Yankees since Billy Traber in 2003, could breathe easy.
Then again, he breathed easy all night. That's just his nature.
"Personality-wise, I don't feel any emotion one way or another on the mound," he said. "In pitching, you've got to have a short memory. There's only so much you can do."
On this night, in front of a packed house, Sowers did enough to create a memory that will last for quite a while.