Derek Jeter led off for the Yankees, and Fossum did just as teammate Doug Waechter did while starting Sunday's game against the Cardinals -- he hit the first batter.
Only this time, disaster didn't follow.
Instead Fossum bowed up and struck out Tony Womack, Gary Sheffield, and Alex Rodriguez.
In doing so, Fossum set the tone for a 5-4 win over the Yankees in front of a crowd of 43,543 at Yankee Stadium, where the Rays resembled the team that had won six in a row instead of the Yankees.
The Devil Rays have their first road winning streak of more than one game, dating back to their last game in Pittsburgh, and they own a four-game winning streak against the Yankees -- their longest winning streak against the Bronx Bombers.
"Game started out, you know, I hit the first batter, but it's happened before," Fossum said. "It's just all a matter of slowing myself down in key situations and not making any mistakes with people in scoring position."
Fossum held the Yankees hitless for four innings before Hideki Matsui finally got a double to end the spell the Rays' left-hander cast on the Yankees' lineup.
"He got us out pretty easily," Jeter said. "We didn't pick up his change of speeds as well as we'd like to. We didn't have many opportunities to do anything. ...
"He pitched well. We couldn't get anything going off him. He mixed it up, threw his fastball 90-91 [mph], then used that curveball at 50-something. He did a good job."
The Rays scored three in the second off Yankees left-hander Sean Henn, who had made only one start in the Major Leagues this season -- a May 4 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field in which he lasted just 2 1/3 innings and allowed five earned runs. The inexperience again showed in Henn's inability to throw strikes.
Carl Crawford drew a bases-loaded walk -- one of seven free passes issued by Henn in 4 2/3 innings -- to score the game's first run. Julio Lugo's infield single brought home the Rays' second run, and Jeter's wild throw to third after fielding Lugo's hit put the Rays up, 3-0.
Manager Lou Piniella, who has seen his share of young pitchers trying to find their way during his tenure as manager of the Devil Rays, allowed a knowing smile when asked whether Henn looked overwhelmed.
|"He pitched well. We couldn't get anything going off him. He mixed it up, threw his fastball 90-91 [mph], then used that curveball at 50-something. He did a good job."|
|-- Derek Jeter on Casey Fossum|
Nobody appreciated the work of the Rays' offense more than Fossum.
"I'll tell you what, it was great getting three runs early in the game," Fossum said. "That made a world of difference pitching with the lead. Just changes the whole ballgame. Felt good."
Fossum escaped a jam in the seventh when Rodriguez doubled to lead off the inning. Matsui then drew a walk to put runners at first and second with no outs. Jorge Posada popped out to bring up Jason Giambi, who watched a called third strike clip the front corner on the outside part of the plate.
"It was a fastball down and away [to Giambi]," Fossum said. "Looked like he was looking for something else."
Bernie Williams grounded out to third to end the inning.
Fossum pitched to one batter in the eighth, Robinson Cano, and left the game with a 5-0 lead after Cano singled. But it almost wasn't enough.
Lance Carter entered the game and gave up an RBI single to Sheffield in advance of giving up a three-run homer to Matsui, who golfed a 1-2 pitch on the outside part of the plate over the wall in right field.
"Carter's had real good success against the people he faced," Piniella said. "Tonight, they just hit him. What can you do?"
Fortunately for the Rays, Danys Baez came on to get the final four outs of the game to preserve the victory and earn his 10th save of the season.
The Rays now have a record of 5-2 against the Yankees in 2005.
"I don't know, I don't know," Piniella said when asked for an explanation his team's success against the Yankees. "Let's enjoy this win and come out here and play hard out here [Tuesday] and try to win another one."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.