Rays in familiar spot after narrow loss
Kazmir's early struggles costly in Game 1 against Phillies
ST. PETERSBURG -- Taking the hard road just seems to be the Rays' way.
On just the 14th pitch of the game Wednesday night, Philadelphia's Chase Utley drove a Scott Kazmir pitch over the right-field wall to give the Phillies the lead in Game 1 of the 2008 World Series at Tropicana Field.
Not exactly the way you want to start your first World Series game. The Phillies never relinquished the lead and held on for a 3-2 victory.
"It's not like I was overamped or anything," Kazmir said. "[It was] just one bad pitch. I felt like if I had thrown it outside, I would have had a better result."
Game 2 will be played at The Trop at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday.
The Phillies' win negated the Rays' home-field advantage in the Fall Classic while also putting the odds in their favor, as 10 of the last 11 winners of Game 1 have gone on to win the World Series.
The star of the game was Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, who allowed just two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out five in seven innings to pick up the win.
"He came out and proved why he is their No. 1," Evan Longoria said. "His changeup was in the zone and where it needed to be. ... We knew he was good, but I didn't know he was that good. He proved a lot to me today. He made pitches all day. And like I say, it's what a No. 1 does."
Kazmir, who has been prone to first-inning struggles throughout the 2008 season, got in and out of several jams during his six innings, but allowed just three runs on six hits. He struck out four, but also walked four.
B.J. Upton helped Kazmir escape a second-inning jam. After the Phillies loaded the bases with one out, Shane Victorino tried to score on Jimmy Rollins' short flyout to center field, but Upton threw him out at the plate to complete the inning-ending double play.
"I knew it was a little shallow, and with his speed, I knew he'd probably take a chance," Upton said. "I just wanted to make a nice solid throw, give [catcher Dioner Navarro] a nice hop and give him a chance at him."
In the third, Jayson Werth doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a groundout before Kazmir struck out Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell to end the inning.
Kazmir allowed the leadoff man to reach for the third consecutive inning when Victorino singled to start the fourth. He scored when Carlos Ruiz grounded out to short with one out to put the Phillies up, 3-0.
GAME 2: JUST THE FACTS
|Tropicana Field, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET|
|Phillies starter: RHP Brett Myers|
|2008: 10-13, 4.55 ERA|
|2008 on the road: 3-8, 6.21 ERA|
|2008 vs. Rays: Did not face|
|Career vs. Rays: Has not faced|
|2008 postseason: 2-0, 5.25 ERA|
|Career postseason: 2-0, 4.72 ERA|
|Rays starter: RHP James Shields|
|2008: 14-8, 3.56 ERA|
|2008 at home: 9-2, 2.59 ERA|
|2008 vs. Phillies: Did not face|
|Career vs. Phillies: 1-0, 4.50 ERA (one start)|
|2008 postseason: 1-2, 3.72 ERA|
|Career postseason: 1-2, 3.72 ERA|
|Phillies lead series, 1-0: Ten of the last 11 teams to win Game 1 of the World Series have gone on to win the title. In all, the team that wins Game 1 has gone on to win 64 of the 103 World Series.|
|Game 1: Phillies 3, Rays 2|
|Did you know? The last time the Phillies won the first game of the World Series was in 1980, which was the last year Philadelphia won the Fall Classic. The Phillies dropped the first game of the World Series in 1983 against the Orioles and in 1993 against the Blue Jays, eventually losing both series.|
The Rays' big chance to get to Hamels early came in the third, when they loaded bases with one out. But Upton rolled into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
"That's huge," Hamels said. "With the lineup Tampa has, they're very devastating. They can hit the long ball. And that was something I was very aware of, especially with B.J. He's the type of guy that can change a game in an instant. And being able to get that ground-ball out and getting the double play, I think was definitely the kind of momentum swing in our favor for the game."
The Rays finally got to Hamels when Carl Crawford hit a solo home run with two outs in the fourth. They added another run in the fifth on Akinori Iwamura's two-out RBI double to cut the Phillies' lead to 3-2.
After Hamels departed, the Philadelphia bullpen retired the Rays' last six hitters in order -- three on strikeouts.
The Rays now find themselves in the same predicament they were in after Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, which they lost to the Red Sox at Tropicana Field to go down, 0-1.
"For us, 0-1, it's like being down 0-1 in the count if you're the batter," J.P. Howell said. "You're not too worried, but at the same time, you saw what they have. You've got to prepare and adjust. They're very aggressive on the basepaths. That's something I didn't know about them. And those guys, they battle, it's a different league. Their approaches are just different. It's a feel thing."
Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett noted that his club has been an underdog all season.
"This is nothing different," Bartlett said. "You still see guys walking around with a smile. We're down 0-1 in the World Series, but we're not getting down on ourselves."
According to Cliff Floyd, there's a secret to why the Rays don't get down on themselves after losses.
"We go out and play our hearts out," Floyd said. "So you can't say this team doesn't really want it. We play our hearts out and leave it on the field."
So the Rays will now turn to Game 2 starter James Shields to try to even things up Thursday night.
Shields has "just got to do what he's been doing," Howell said. "It's nothing exceptional. We don't need anything great, amazing, a no-hitter. We need him to go seven strong. If he does that, he puts us in a good situation to take charge and get the lead."
If he is to be the Rays' salvation Thursday night, Shields did not show any signs of pressure after Wednesday night's game.
"We've been doing this all year," Shields said. "I thought Kaz pitched a great game tonight. Quality start, 3-2 game, can't get a closer game than that.
"I thought we looked good. Cole Hamels, pretty good pitcher, you have to tip your cap to him. He's been doing it this whole [postseason]. That's the reason he's their ace. [It was a] tough loss."
Shields then answered the question all Rays fans want to know: Why does it take a shot to the gut to get the Rays going?
"I guess it kind of wakes us up a little bit," said Shields with a chuckle. "Let's hope so."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.