A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir didn’t sugar coat his postgame comments after his outing five days ago against Texas, when he was the losing pitcher in a sloppy 6-3 defeat.
Kazmir exited after 4 1/3 innings having allowed six runs – four earned – on nine hits, and reportedly said of the A’s overall effort: “That was a game that just doesn’t happen in September when you’re in a pennant race. You just don’t play like that.”
Kazmir retakes the mound for the first time Sunday in the series finale against Philadelphia, with the A’s coming off a shutout loss but still with a chance to win the series. They need more offense than they showed Saturday, of course, but a strong outing by Kazmir would help. Manager Bob Melvin said he expects Kazmir is itching to pitch again after the way his last start went.
“I mean, everybody’s frustrated at this point, and some guys show it a little bit more than others,” Melvin said. “He works awfully hard, and he wants to do well, and he wants our season to continue.
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“So he’s a pretty motivated guy out there, and sometimes his emotions – he wears them on his sleeve some. But his preparation, his desire to go out there the next time, is the same every time.”
Since the end of July, when Kazmir was 12-3 with a 2.37 ERA, he has won just two of his last nine starts and his ERA has risen to 3.44. In his last five starts, he’s 0-4 with an 8.22 ERA, and opponents are batting .298 against him. So, with two starts left before a potential playoff series for the A’s, now is the time for Kazmir to right the ship.
The A’s lineup behind Kazmir today:
And the Phillies’ lineup behind right-hander A.J. Burnett:
• Melvin confirmed there’s a chance of both Craig Gentry and John Jaso missing the rest of the year with their concussions. Gentry has not resumed any baseball activities since suffering his concussion last week in a collision at first base. Melvin said Gentry is “still having a little bit of a tough time” and was re-evaluated by a doctor Saturday.
• Derek Norris is getting a scheduled day off Sunday but also took a shot to the right jaw Saturday when a pitch in the dirt bounced up and caught him under the mask. Melvin said it was a “pretty good shot” but that Norris is “all right” today and available off the bench if needed.
• Stephen Vogt gets his 10th start this season batting in the No. 2 spot, where he has hit .306 this season. “He’s a guy that can work a count, hit a ball in the hole,” Melvin said. “Probably not our fastest baserunner at this point, but we’re looking to get the best nine guys in there on a particular day and do some good things offensively, which has been tough for us here recently.”
How tough? The A’s have scored a total of 19 runs over their last 10 games. According to the team’s pre-game notes, it’s just the third time in the last 35 years the A’s have scored fewer than 20 runs in a 10-game stretch.