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Indians Indians Archive Nothing and Nothing
Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

ST-KazmirNight and day; that’s how Scott Kazmir describes where he’s at as a pitcher, now versus what he was in his time with the Angels.  For Kazmir, this wasn’t about vengeance of any sort, just another start for a one-time phenom trying to crack a starting rotation.  He caught up with some old friends before Monday’s game in Goodyear, but when game time came, it was all about shutting down the Angels.

And, shutting down the Angels is exactly what he did in his first 4-inning start of the spring.  He threw four scoreless innings against his former team on Monday, which is nothing new, since he has yet to allow a run to cross the plate on his watch through 8 innings of work thus far, over the course of 3 outings.  Refusing to be the “crafty left-hander”, Kazmir is still striking guys out; all four Angel Ks were of the swing-and-miss variety.

He was able to keep his pitch count down early, facing the minimum through two, thanks in part to a Howie Kendrick ground ball to Lonnie Chisenhall, which began a 5-4-3 double play to neutralize a Mark Trumbo lead-off single in the second inning.  There was even more trouble in the third, when the Angels had two runners in scoring position with two out, but a lazy fly ball to Drew Stubbs took care of that.

“I don’t even want to look at that right now.  I’m just focused on what I need to do everyday,” Kazmir responded to the biggest remaining question of camp, about the open 5th spot in the rotation, “(I’m) just going to continue to get better”.  Kazmir also told media members, who cover both his current and former team, that he felt good going 4 innings for the first time and that his focus is on throwing strikes to get ahead of hitters.

Kazmir hasn’t exactly been un-hittable this spring, but he’s picked his spots not allowing hits, he allowed three on Monday, to turn into runs.  “(He) threw all his pitches,” Terry Francona commented, “attacked the zone.”  And, that’s just the thing, by staying in the zone, the strikeouts are up and the walks are down; Andrew Romine’s third inning walk was the first Kazmir had issued in big league games.  He did walk a batter in a March 6th “B” game, but he also struck out 5 in 3 innings against mostly minor league bats.  Kazmir noted that the “B” game appearance was all about working on his slider, which he didn’t throw a lot on Monday.

“They had a good lineup today,” Francona said of the Angels starters, which included Josh Hamilton, Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick, and Trumbo.  “That was a good test for him, I thought he did real well.”

Unfortunately for the folks who care about the wins and losses in these Arizona games, Jered Weaver did real well too, striking out six and not allowing a run on three hits over 4 innings on the bump for Mike Scioscia.  Weaver’s ability to dominate is no secret, but after giving up back-to-back hits to Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley to start his day, he found himself in a zone.

The Indians did appear to have something going after Brantley, back in left field for the first time since having his forearm stitched up on February 25th, singled to move Bourn over to second base with nobody out, but Jason Kipnis’s flyball to right field wasn’t deep enough to sacrifice his center fielder over to third.  Weaver got Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi on strikes to end the first, then resumed his domination in the third, when Chisenhall whiffed to start the inning.

Drew Stubbs steals second baseDrew Stubbs walked and stole second base, giving the Indians an opportunity to score with runners in scoring position for the second straight inning, but Lou Marson’s fly-out to Peter Bourjos in center field was, again, not deep enough.  Then, Weaver got Juan Diaz swinging to the end the 2nd inning.

“He looked real good,” the Indians skipper raved, “He’s got that angle; you know he’s going to be tough on righties, but he’s so tough on lefties with his command, his change-up, his breaking ball.  He’s got a lot of ways to get you out.”

Michael Bourn wasn’t such an easy egg for Weaver to crack.  Coming into the game with just 4 hits in 24 at-bats, Bourn went 2-for-3 on the day to bring his average up from .167 to .222.  He doubled to lead off the 3rd inning, and moved over third base on a Jason Kipnis groundout, but Swisher’s second whiff of the day kept things deadlocked at 0.

That’s the way it stayed, even after Weaver hit the showers.  Jerome Williams was great in long relief for “Los Angeles”, yielding 5 hits and a walk over 5 innings, but keeping the Indians off the board the whole way.  The Tribe made some serious efforts to avoid their first tie of the spring, loading the bases in the 8th and getting minor-league camper Tyler Holt to third base with one out in the 9th on Mike McDade’s single, but he was chopped down at the plate on a Ryan Raburn ground ball to third.  Holt left things up to chance by creating a pickle, but Williams tagged him eventually on the 5-2-5-1 fielder’s choice.

Of course, it takes two to tango and this “kiss your sister” result was also done, in part, by Joe Smith, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Matt Langwell, and Preston Guilmet.  Smith gave up a single in his inning of work, but Francona says, “I’m not worried about Joe; he’s down, throwing strikes.”

There was a little bit of concern about Matsuzaka, who went out to pitch the seventh inning, after giving up a hit in the sixth.  After his warm-up tosses, Francona called on Matt Langwell to replace the former Boston pitcher, as a precautionary measure.  “He had a cramp in his calf; hard to let a guy pitch like that,” noting that this probably isn’t anything with staying power.

The Indians are off on Tuesday, one of two built-in off-days the Tribe will have in Goodyear.  The other is next Tuesday.  Trevor Bauer, Brett Myers, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber will throw side sessions on the team’s day off.  Justin Masterson threw an inning in the team’s “B” game against the Angels on Monday morning.  The team will be back in action on Wednesday, when they travel to Glendale to take on the White Sox at 4:05 ET/1:05 AZ.  Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start for the Tribe; Robin Ventura will put Andre Rienzo out there for the south-siders.

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