Going into tonight’s game, Scott Kazmir hadn’t won a game since May 30; he was 0-2 in his last three starts (and the no-decision was a game we ended up losing to the Nationals). He had a 5.89 ERA and a 1.655 WHIP. There were flashes of his prior pitching form–his 10 strikeouts against Oakland on May 9 made a lot of folks sit up and take notice, but after those last three starts, the whole comeback/redemption thing seemed to have stalled.
Then Friday night against the Twins, Kazmir went 7 full innings, giving up just 1 earned run and striking out seven. What I found most significant about Kazmir’s start is that he seemed to get more dominant as the game went on. Kazmir had just 2 strikeouts before the 6th inning. The Twins made a lot of contact with the ball–he gave up three doubles and a single, and just about all of the early outs came from pop-ups and ground outs. Then in the top of the 6th, with the Indians up 2-0, Kazmir gave up a solo home run to Brian Dozier. Seeing the Tribe’s slim lead cut in half seemingly made Kazmir say, “Screw this, time to get serious,” and promptly strike out 5 of the last 7 batters he faced. The offense followed suit and scored 3 more insurance runs in the bottom of the 7th to make it a 5-1 ballgame.
This was one of the more enjoyable games I’ve watched in a while. Why?
- It’s always fun to watch a pitcher go on a strike-out tear. It’s especially fun when it’s your pitcher.
- Cleveland’s pitchers (Kazmir, Smith, and Pestano) didn’t give up any walks.
- The Indians had a good old-fashioned rally in the 7th, sending 8 men to the plate and scoring 3 runs on singles by Drew Stubbs and Jason Kipnis.
- Terry Francona’s chaw seemed continually in danger of taking over his entire mouth.
- Jason Kipnis embodied the perpetual baseball dichotomy of failure and redemption by committing a throwing error in the 5th inning then hitting a two-run single in the 7th.
- Carlos Baerga visited the broadcast booth and talked about the old days.
- Tonight made the Tribe 7-2 in the 9 games since they snapped their losing streak.