tampabay.com

Lou still happy with Brazelton

By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 11, 2004


NEW YORK - Dewon Brazelton wasn't very happy after Saturday's game, especially being peppered with questions from New York radio reporters about what he did wrong.

The 6-3 loss technically was Brazelton's fault, the towering two-run homer he gave up to Alex Rodriguez allowing the Yankees to tie and the two runners he put on in the seventh eventually coming in to score the deciding runs after Brazelton left the game.

But manager Lou Piniella was more than happy with what Brazelton has been doing right.

"Brazelton pitched well," Piniella said. "He competed very well. He's really starting to improve as a starting pitcher. I've been impressed with his progress. I really have."

Brazelton, the No. 3 pick in the 2001 draft, has had four good outings in a row. He is 2-2, but has a 2.81 ERA over that stretch and a lot to be proud of.

"Brazelton's getting better and better," Piniella said. "He lost his last two starts, but he has nothing to be ashamed of. Today he walked a few too many hitters (five), but outside of that, boy, he competed. It's fun for me to see young people mature and see them get better. It really is. Today, Brazelton, he didn't leave anything in the dugout. He poured his heart into that game. He pitched well."

Rodriguez's home run was the first Brazelton allowed this season in more than 85 innings at Triple A and in the majors.

"You're going to give them up," Brazelton said. "It was a bad pitch. the other at-bats I threw the ball down and got him out. A guy like that, he ain't the highest paid player here for nothing. You make a mistake like that, he does what he's supposed to do with it."

NOT SEEING STARS: As of Saturday night, Victor Zambrano still was not going to the All-Star Game.

The Rays had hoped he might get added to the AL team when Curt Schilling became the second pitcher to withdraw, but league officials instead named Cleveland's Jake Westbrook, saying he was next on the list of vote-getters from the players, coaches and managers.

Westbrook is the fifth All-Star from the Indians, making them the first AL team with a sub-.500 record to have that many in more than 30 years.

Because of the uncertainty, Zambrano canceled plans to leave Saturday for his native Venezuela and will stay with the Rays, be available in the bullpen today and spend the All-Star break in Florida.

BEING THE STAR: Houston officials are making a big deal of Carl Crawford's All-Star homecoming, with mayor Bill White planning to issue a proclamation Tuesday at a City Hall ceremony.

SEEING FUTURE STARS: Outfielder Delmon Young (hitting .278 with 12 homers and 68 RBIs in 81 games at Class A Charleston) and shortstop B.J. Upton(.323, 12, 26 in 52 games at Triple-A Durham) will represent the Rays in today's Futures Game in Houston.

Young, an 18-year-old who was the first pick in the 2003 draft, is the youngest player in the game, and Upton, 19, is the fourth youngest on the U.S. team.

"I'm just proud to be picked," Young said by telephone Saturday. "Not that I'm the youngest, just that I was picked."

As for his stellar pro debut?

"It's all right," Young said. "Decent."

MISCELLANY: The Rays lost a series for the first time since May 28-30, against the Yankees. They had been 8-0-3, and the 11-series unbeaten streak was the longest in the majors this season. ... The Rays are 9-10 since the end of their 12-game winning streak. ... Jose Cruz on Friday became the fifth active player with 12 or more homers as a visitor at Yankee Stadium, joining Manny Ramirez (22), Rafael Palmeiro (20), Ken Griffey (18) and teammate Fred McGriff (12). ... The Rays are 4-6 on the 11-game, 10-day road trip. ... Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is 30-for-30 in save opportunities against the Rays and moved past Robb Nen into 11th place all-time with 315.