Pitcher J. P. Howell got the call up from AAA Durham and responded by allowing just one run in eight innings in his 2007 debut for the Devil Rays.
Howell beat the Kansas City Royals 5-1 to salvage one game of a three-game series with the AL Central cellar-dweller.
Starters James Shields (4-0) and Scott Kazmir (3-3) have pitched pretty well, but the other three starting pitchers had combined for a 6-16 record, with Casey Fossum's swollen 7.74 ERA the lowest of the three.
Fossum has been assigned to the bullpen and Jae Seu (8.10 ERA) was designated for assignment at Durham.
Starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine was also called up from Durham and is scheduled to make his major-league debut on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays and pitcher Roy Halliday.
Sonnanstine had 6 wins and a 2.66 ERA with the Durham Bulls this season.
Many Rays fans have questioned why the club hasn't put more into this year's pitching staff. The club is using a wise plan, however. Small-market clubs need to pick their spots to temporarily balloon the payroll to put a team into the playoffs with a shot at the World Series. The young team has shown an ability to score runs, even with some of its young players going through batting slumps, and the defense makes up for many of its errors of inexperience with superior range. Rookie outfielders Elijah Dukes (4 assists) and Delmon Young (9 assists) have impressed with their arms and their range, for example.
Adding a year or three of maturity to the defense and the pitching should make it worth spending extra money on a couple of players to help put the team over the top.
[Update] I was caught once again by the four-game series where I expected three. James Shields beat the Royals the next day to enable the Rays to split the four-game series.