Kazmir looking to get back into rhythm

Kazmir looking to get rhythm back

SEATTLE -- Scott Kazmir will make his 19th start of the season Tuesday night against the A's, and the Rays are hoping he can find his groove.

He has received no-decisions in his past three starts and the deepest he's gotten into the game has been five innings in that span.

Kazmir reported having a nice bullpen session Friday in which he ironed out some mechanical issues.

"I just want to try and feel comfortable," Kazmir said. "We talked about a couple of things on my stride, like maybe I was going a little too far, a little too long. I ended up having a stiff front leg and couldn't get over it.

"I kind of have a bent leg [now], so I can actually get through the ball. I felt good after I was done with my bullpen session."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said pitching coach Jim Hickey and he each had good conversations with Kazmir.

"Kaz is wide open right now," Maddon said. "I really appreciate the way he's going about putting himself back together right now. He's doing all the right things. ... I'm really expecting him to do well."

Maddon concedes Kazmir needs to find several things, like the strike zone on a more consistent basis, his fastball command and getting back his slider.

"And I think some of that is rooted in mechanics," Maddon said.

But Maddon quickly added his belief that the physical part of the game often follows the mental part.

"I think if you over think, it can become something on the physical side," Maddon said. "Mechanics being off, the problem normally starts with what you're thinking then it becomes a physical situation. So we're trying to get him to think a little bit differently. And of course there's things going on with his delivery right now that have gotten out of whack, but I think it begins with a thought."

Maddon surmised his ace would be OK.

"I think the way he's been going about it, he's going to get back on track soon," Maddon said.

Pitching matchup
TB: LHP Scott Kazmir (8-5, 3.20 ERA)
For the second consecutive start, Kazmir struggled on the hill, as the lefty allowed a season-high nine hits and five earned runs to Cleveland. The 24-year-old Rays ace allowed three consecutive one-out hits -- including two doubles -- to the meat of the Tribe lineup, and exited after 97 pitches and 4 1/3 innings. In his last 11 starts, Kazmir has gone seven innings just once, in a July 21 win at Oakland. Kazmir has fared well against the A's this season, going 2-0 in two starts.

OAK: LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-1, 6.00 ERA)
Gonzalez pitched well against the Blue Jays in his last start, which was also his Major League debut. He allowed four runs on four hits over six innings. The left-hander walked two and struck out four in the outing, needing 95 pitches. What was more impressive, though, was that after surrendering three runs in the first inning, he settled down considerably. During a stretch from the second to the fifth inning, he did not allow a hit, issuing one walk and retiring 15 of the 16 batters he faced.

Tidbits
Jason Bartlett (sore right index finger) and Evan Longoria (sore right wrist) did not start Sunday, but they are expected to be back at shortstop and third, respectively, for Tuesday night's game against the A's. ... Brian Anderson, the former Major League pitcher and current Rays assistant to the pitching coach, and Todd Kalas, will split color duties for the Rays telecast while regular color man Joe Magrane is away working as the color man for NBC's Olympic baseball coverage. ... Ouftelder Rocco Baldelli finally shaved his Abraham Lincoln-looking beard prior to being activated for Sunday's game. Pitcher Andy Sonnanstine, who had grown a beard in a showing of solidarity for Baldelli, also shaved. ... By activating Baldelli, the Rays' 40-man roster is now at 40. ... Hickey caught major verbal abuse from players and coaches after warming up new acquisition Chad Bradford between innings of Saturday night's game. Hickey squatted behind home plate for two pitches and dropped both deliveries from the submarine-throwing right-hander.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MLB.TV

On radio
• WHNZ 1250, WGES 680 (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 11-6, 4.40) at Athletics (TBD), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Rays (James Shields, 10-7, 3.65) at Athletics (TBD), 3:35 p.m. ET
• Friday: Rays (Matt Garza, 9-7, 3.88) at Rangers (Matt Harrison, 4-2, 7.07), 8:05 p.m. ET

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.