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McRae: Lack of complete games is not a concern

By BRUCE LOWITT and KEVIN KELLY
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 14, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- If Wilson Alvarez leaves today's game before the final Rays pitch -- and it's pretty much a lock that he will -- it will mark the team's 162nd consecutive game without a complete game.

The Rays hold the major-league record. The streak began the day after Albie Lopez beat the Orioles 2-0 at Camden Yards. The streak means nothing to manager Hal McRae.

"Getting a complete game doesn't concern me," McRae said. "Going seven (innings) does. If you get one, fine. I think (Ryan) Rupe had a chance to get one (two weeks ago when he pitched seven shutout innings in a victory over Detroit).

"That was early on and the bullpen needed the work, which was a major concern the first week to 10 days," McRae said. "They've all worked. ... I'm not concerned with Wilson. I'm a little more concerned with rest."

The left-handed Alvarez will be limited to about 90 pitches. By comparison, Tanyon Sturtze threw 99 in five innings Saturday. It's Alvarez's second start of the season. His first, a 3-0 loss at Yankee Stadium, ended a 916-day streak during which he recovered from rotator cuff surgery.

"It's a normal game now," Alvarez said. "I was real excited the first game no matter where (it was played). I still feel kind of nervous, butterflies in my stomach and stuff like that. I'm excited (but) it's not quite the same."

In 4 1/3 innings at New York he gave up five hits and four walks. "I want to get innings, pitch longer," Alvarez said. "That's all I want to do. Not walk many guys and just go longer."

STURTZE WAS IN A HURRY: The six walks allowed by Sturtze matched his career high, set in June in Boston.

"He's been rushing (his pitches)," McRae said, "but he settled down today. He was really throwing better at the end, but he had run out (of gas). He was worn out, but he threw his best fastball today."

Sturtze's biggest mistake was the pitch Carlos Delgado hit for a two-run homer in the first inning. "I was trying to get him to hit a ground ball. It was a good hit, a great hit," he said.

HEY, WHO IS THIS KID?: Rookie left-handed pitcher Steve Kent, who made the jump this year from Class A to the majors, is quietly making a big impression coming out of the bullpen.

In five appearances (7 1/3 innings) Kent, 23, hasn't given up a run, has allowed six hits and has struck out six batters and walked two. "He's been very mature. He's thrown strikes," McRae said. "He's probably been as efficient as anyone on this club."

Kent said he doesn't exactly feel pressure pitching at this level. "But I'm out to prove a point that whoever made the decision to make the move that they made was the right one, to go out there and show that, "Hey, this kid, he's all right.' "

TAKING A BREAK: Catcher Toby Hall, third baseman Bobby Smith and shortstop Chris Gomez will take today off. Starting in their places, respectively: John Flaherty, Jason Smith and Felix Escalona. It is Flaherty's second start. Jason Smith, who has appeared in three games (six at-bats), is hitless.

ETC: The four-error game by the Rays was their first since a 5-1 loss to the Yankees Sept. 26 at Yankee Stadium and was one shy of the club record, committed twice against the Jays, once in each of the past two seasons. ... Delgado's homer was his 14th against the Rays, adding to the record he set Friday night. ... Bobby Smith has six hits in his past 16 at-bats after his 0-for-17 start. ... Brent Abernathy has reached base with a hit or walk in all 10 Rays games.


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