Kazmir can relate to Florida prep star

Kazmir can relate to Florida prep star

MINNEAPOLIS -- Patrick Schuster's favorite Major League pitcher followed "The Streak." It brought back memories. But back when Scott Kazmir threw four straight no-hitters for Houston's Cypress Falls High School, he wasn't subjected to nearly the media attention that Schuster received.

"They didn't get me on SportsCenter," Kazmir joked. "They left me out. They had no love for me."

Schuster was unable to one-up Tampa Bay's talented lefty, missing out on a bid for his fifth straight no-hitter on Tuesday when he gave up a double in the third inning against Gaither High's Drew Doty. Schuster's Mitchell team went on to lose, 9-4. Schuster gave up three hits and three earned runs over five innings.

Schuster owns Florida's state record with four straight no-hitters. He and Kazmir, however, come up two short of the national record.

"[Four consecutive no-hitters is] amazing to do, especially him being in Florida," Kazmir said. "That's good competition."

Kazmir will get a chance to swap no-hitter stories with Schuster on Sunday. Kazmir is hoping the pair of prep legends can talk prior to Schuster throwing out the first pitch of that day's game against the Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Kazmir said he wants to give the youngster some advice. But, like most people, he's curious.

"I want to watch him pitch," Kazmir said. "I want to see how he throws the ball. Hopefully I'll be able to play some catch with him, see how he throws it."

Schuster has said he admires the aggressiveness of Kazmir.

Kazmir was asked if there would be room in Tampa Bay's future starting rotation for Schuster, the 79th-rated prospect in the nation by Baseball America.

"You never know," Kazmir said.

Kazmir can give a giant boost to his scuffling team on Wednesday. He could break Tampa Bay's five-series losing streak when he takes the mound against the Twins in the rubber match. He takes the responsibility seriously.

"Even though people say there is no momentum in this game, I think there is," Kazmir said. "I think you build confidence when you sweep a series or take a series, [and] you come into your next home game with a little bit of confidence. It's big for us to get this win, win this the series and go home."

A win for Kazmir would tie the club record for most wins through April. Andy Sonnanstine went 4-1 last April.

"That's something I don't think about at all," Kazmir said.

Pitching matchup
TB: LHP Scott Kazmir (3-1, 3.97 ERA)
Kazmir made his fourth start of the season on Friday night against the A's, and he appeared headed for trouble from the outset when he walked three batters in the first three innings. But he managed to sort out his control issues en route to posting six scoreless innings while holding Oakland to just two hits to earn his third win of the season. Kazmir is 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA in five career starts against the Twins, and he is 1-2 with a 3.43 ERA in three career starts at the Metrodome.

MIN: RHP Nick Blackburn (1-1, 4.44 ERA)
After back-to-back rocky starts by Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano in Boston, it was Blackburn who got the starting pitching on the right track with his outing in Cleveland on Friday night. Blackburn allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings to earn his first win of the season. He improved his record at Progressive Field to 3-0 in three career starts and has a 1.80 ERA over that span. Blackburn's sinker was working well in his latest start -- something that's been critical to the right-hander's success. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter in the outing.

Tidbits
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he didn't call for the five-man infield with Brendan Harris batting in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game because Harris has a tendency to hit short fly balls to right field ... Maddon said Jason Isringhausen, who is at Double-A Montgomery on a rehab assignment, will get two innings in his next outing. After that, Izzy will become a regular member of Montgomery's bullpen, to be used in certain situations. The reliever has been hitting 89-91 mph pretty consistently, according to Maddon.

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Up next
• Thursday: Rays (Matt Garza, 1-2, 4.97) vs. Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 2-1, 6.00), 7:08 p.m. ET
• Friday: Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 0-3, 7.78) vs. Red Sox (Justin Masterson, 2-0, 2.70), 7:38 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Rays (Jeff Niemann, 2-2, 4.43) vs. Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 2-1, 1.86), 7:08 p.m. ET

Thor Nystrom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.