Scott Kazmir started off his stellar season with a dominant performance against the Cleveland Indians. But given the way the Oakland Athletics are swinging the bats lately, Kazmir may not need his best stuff for Oakland on Saturday night in Cleveland.
Kazmir (5-1, 2.28 ERA) scattered three hits over 7 1-3 scoreless innings in his season debut, a 6-1 win over Cleveland on April 2. He had been 1-3 with a 6.13 ERA in his previous eight starts against the Indians, with whom he went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts in 2013.
The left-hander was sharp in his most recent outing as well, throwing seven shutout innings while yielding four hits in Sunday's 9-1 victory against Washington. He didn't walk a batter, lowering his already career-best walks-per-nine-innings ratio to 1.58.
Kazmir is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA over his last five road starts dating back to last season, fanning 36 in 29 innings.
He could be even more formidable for Cleveland (19-23) if Oakland (26-16) gets off to another big start. After having a six-game winning streak snapped while being held to three hits in a 4-2 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday, the Athletics posted an eight-run second inning in Friday's 11-1 victory. The 11 runs surpassed the 10 Oakland had totaled while dropping two of three to the Indians to open the season.
Josh Reddick hit two home runs, including his second career grand slam, while Josh Donaldson homered for the third straight game. Jed Lowrie added a solo shot to lead off the third inning.
Reddick is 6 for 15 over his last four games with nine RBIs, matching his total from his first 34 contests. He had been 4 for 32 over his previous 10 games.
"I was getting some pitches to handle and not missing them," Reddick said. "That's how you keep a hot streak going, you don't miss pitches."
Oakland's offensive outburst was more than enough for Sonny Gray, who allowed one run and two hits in six innings.
The Indians have dropped four of six, with their rotation posting an 8.66 ERA during a 1-3 stretch. However, they've been able to count on Josh Tomlin (2-0, 2.13) in his first two starts since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012. He gave up two runs and six hits over six innings in a 6-5 road win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. Two of the three runs he's allowed have come on solo home runs.
Tomlin was solid in his only previous start against Oakland, allowing two earned runs and three hits in 7 2-3 innings on May 4, 2011, though he took the loss in a 3-1 road defeat.
Asdrubal Cabrera continues to struggle with runners in scoring position, going hitless in his lone chance Friday. He's batting .156 in those situations - the lowest average among players with at least 45 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
David Murphy is 9 for 18 over his last four games but just 2 for 14 lifetime against Kazmir.