tampabay.com

A victory for the team reward enough for Seo

By EDUARDO ENCINA and MARC TOPKIN
Published September 21, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - When Jae Seo saw Ty Wigginton's eventual winning homer sail over the right-centerfield fence Wednesday evening, the Rays pitcher emphatically jumped from his seat and started giving high-fives throughout the Tampa Bay dugout.

Seo has pitched some of his best baseball since joining the Devil Rays in a trade with the Dodgers on June 27. Still, he has had little to show for it in the won-loss column.

The 4-2 Devil Rays victory against Baltimore was no different. Through his first seven innings of work, the 29-year-old right-hander allowed just one run on five hits. Seo lasted 72/3 innings, his longest outing of the season, but didn't factor in the decision after leaving with the score tied at 2 following Chris Gomez's two-out run-scoring single in the eighth.

Since returning from a two-week stint on the DL with a pulled left groin, Seo has pitched to an ERA of 3.00 over four starts. Seo (3-10, 4.98 with Tampa Bay and Los Angeles) has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven of his past eight starts. He is 0-1 in that span.

"If my team gets the win, I'm fine," Seo said. "My team had lost nine games in a row and we came back to win the 10th. My win doesn't matter. My team wins, that's all that matters."

Manager Joe Maddon said the difference with Seo has been his overall command and the fact he has increased his velocity as he has become readjusted to the starting rotation. (When the Rays acquired him, the Dodgers had demoted Seo to the bullpen.) With his recent success, Seo has impressed Maddon enough to believe he could be a consistent 15-game winner and a fixture in the starting rotation.

"He's all about location," Maddon said. "He's real tough against a good team. He's the kind of a guy where you feel that whenever he pitches, you feel like you have a chance to win. He's one of those guys."

The Rays hadn't been able to take advantage of that, going 1-6 in Seo's past seven starts. But on Wednesday, Seo gave his team just enough to break a season-high, nine-game losing streak.

"I'd love to have seen him get the win," Maddon said. "He cared more about the team getting the win than the fact that he didn't get the win. And that's why he belongs here."

ON SCHEDULE: The Rays release their 2007 schedule today, which includes slight adjustments to the game times. Weekday and Saturday games start at 7:10 (rather than 7:15) and Sunday games at 1:40 (pushed back from 1:15). There are occasional weekday games at 3:10. The Rays open the season at New York on April 2 and finish at Toronto on Sept. 30. Home interleague opponents are the Dodgers, Marlins and Padres.

IN NEED OF RELIEF: Maddon said reliever Chad Orvella, who had a throwing session before Monday's game, likely will not pitch for the rest of the season (intercostal strain). Travis Harper, sidelined with right shoulder impingement since Aug. 3, could also be shut down for the season today. But Maddon said he expects reliever Edwin Jackson to return, maybe as soon as today. Jackson threw off flat ground for the second time since taking a batted ball off his head Saturday. "I think he's going to be fine soon," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: With his seventh-inning single, centerfielder Rocco Baldelli is 3-for-3 with the bases loaded this season. He is batting .647 (11-for-17) in his career with the bags full. ... With two hits Wednesday, second baseman Jorge Cantu was 8-for-11 in the three-game series. He went into the series hitless in his previous 14 at-bats. ... Orioles third baseman and former Devil Ray Gomez had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. "He's on the All-Maddon team," Maddon said. "Every time I see him, he does what he did today. I'm his St. Christopher medal. I'm the lucky star." ... Rays reliever Brian Meadows is expecting his first child, a boy he plans to name Jacob Austin. His wife, Jenny, is scheduled to go to the doctor today and might be induced. ... With players beginning to clean out their lockers, the Rays have collection boxes in the clubhouse for equipment donations to send to the organization's new academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.