May 11, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (26) pitches during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Kazmir‘s status in Oakland might be uncertain, but his performance on Thursday night was just the opposite. He tossed eight shutout innings of baseball, allowing just two hits and striking out seven. Timely offense from Josh Phegley, Marcus Semien, and Mark Canha sealed the deal for the Athletics, propelling their ball club to a 4-0 victory.
After securing a series win against the Colorado Rockies, there is no better pitcher to have on the mound than Kazmir, who possesses a 5-0 record with a 1.09 ERA in eight starts against American League West opponents. The southpaw was wheeling-and-dealing on a cool night at the Coliseum and faced the bare minimum through four frames before surrendering a double to Franklin Gutierrez in the top of the fifth; surprisingly, Gutierrez was the one that recorded the only two hits for Seattle in the entire game. Kazmir was superb against right-handed hitters, mixing his pitches and location with ease, and it showed. His change up and slider left the opposition stymied and Seattle players had no chance at catching up to the inside fastball. Out of the 26 batters Kazmir retired, 13 grounded out, seven struck out, and six found gloves with ease — whether it was a line out or fly out.
The Swingin’ A’s bats continued to heat up in the bottom of the first as Ben Zobrist worked a four-pitch walk from Mariners’ starter Roenis Elias. Billy Butler kept things going by taking advantage of a 2-2 fastball that he pulled down the left field line for a double. With runners on second and third, Phegley, who is batting .307 in his last 24 games, smoked a change up to right, plating the Athletics’ first two runs of the contest. As if Kazmir needed any more insurance, Semien pulled a 2-0 fastball off Elias and recorded his seventh homer of the year. Finally, Canha did his best Butler impression by recording his first triple of the season.
Edward Mujica pitched a clean 1-2-3 ninth inning and secured Oakland’s 37th win of the season. At the moment, the A’s trail the Mariners by half-a-game in the AL West.
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There was no question that Kazmir was in control the whole night, and it just seemed that the two-run first would prove to be sufficient. The lefty has been very impressive thus far, more so that his status in Oakland remains up in the air at this point. Last season, Kazmir struggled mightily in the second half, but who’s to say he couldn’t turn it around in 2015?
The A’s played an all-around solid game from the pitching, fielding, and hitting standpoint. If there was one bad moment in the series opener, it would have to be Gutierrez breaking up Kazmir’s no-no in the fifth.
- After being hospitalized on Tuesday with flu-like symptoms, Sonny Gray was released from John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek today with what reportedly turned out to be caused by salmonella. It is believed that Gray did not pick up this infection at any venues at the Coliseum however he will miss his next scheduled start on Sunday as a precaution. Chris Bassitt will likely get the spot start.
- The Mariners were 5-1 against the Athletics this season until Kazmir made his first appearance against the M’s in 2015.
- The Oakland Athletics possess a 37-45 record through 82 games. In 2012, they posted a 40-42 at this mark, so it’s unfair to say that the A’s are out of contention just yet.
Jesse Chavez (4-7, 3.02 ERA) will look to extended the A’s winning-streak to three games and pull the rug from under J.A. Happ (3-5, 3.89 ERA) and the Mariners in order to gain sole possession of fourth place in the American League West. Our newest Swingin’ A’s contributor, Steven Luke, has the recap for the second game of this four game series beginning at 6:05 PM PT tomorrow.