Ace is a powerful word, one that I’ll leave the sports radio personalities of the world to debate. Let me say this: I haven’t felt this comfortable with a pitcher on the mound since… god, Tim Hudson, maybe? 2007 Dan Haren? We’ve had a lot of good pitchers in the meantime, but there are very few that I feel could produce a game like Scott Kazmir’s gem today on a regular basis.
By 2013 Kazmir standards, today was almost routine. 7 IP, 8 Ks, 0 BB, 4 H, 2 ER? Yeah, whatever. Wake me up after 8 shutout innings. Even the 2 ERs were a result of one of the most bizarre home runs I’ve ever seen, off the bat of Dustin Pedroia in the 6th inning. Kazmir was cruising along, allowed the first baserunner in several innings, and Dustin Pedroia got way out in front of a changeup and hit a lazy pop-fly to left field.
And the lazy pop-fly just kept carrying… and carrying… and carrying… and brushed right off the edge of Cespedes’s glove as it exited the building. I don’t mean to denigrate Pedroia’s ability or anything, and a dinger’s a dinger, but I haven’t seen a home run quite like that before. It almost makes me want to absolve Kazmir of those runs. Which I can't do, but I have a mancrush, dammit.
That was the only minor blip on the road of a truly spectacular game from Kazmir. At one point he retired eight straight hitters, and before the home run he had an 18 inning scoreless streak dating back to June 3rd at New York.
In fact, he was so brilliant I don’t really have a lot to say about his innings, unless you want to read several thousand words worth of "groundout groundout OUTSIDE CORNER RING HIM UP STRIKE THREE WHAT A BEAUTIFUL CURVE groundout groundout groundout".
Jake Peavy got almost the exact same results, which is absolutely insane considering that he pitched terribly. The A’s had a great shot of scoring a few runs in the first inning, after Coco Crisp legged out a bunt single and then stole second, and Jaso walked. Unfortunately, Cespedes flew out and Moss hit a line drive… right into the glove of Stephen Drew, who proceeded to step on 2nd base to double up Coco Crisp.
That was how the game went all night for the A’s offense – fate, or luck, or bad decisions kept them from really breaking this game open. Donaldson hit an absolute laser off the left field wall, about a foot short of home run height – but it was hit so hard, he didn’t have time to get to second base, and ended with an incredibly long single. Stephen Vogt hit an RBI groundout later in that inning, but the A’s could’ve broken it open there.
Also, this is the part of the recap where I could complain about the injustice that Josh Donaldson hit a screaming liner off the wall and ended with a single, and Dustin Pedroia popped up a home run, but that would be petty.
Cespedes hit one out to the deepest part of the ballpark in the third inning, to make me feel a little better. In case you were wondering, Cespedes is hitting .313/.347/.507 in June (not including tonight’s game), is hitting overall .266/.315/.513, and is SUPER GOOD AT EVERYTHING.
Stephen Vogt drove in two today, bringing his RBI total to 10 after 14 games played, and drew his first walk of the season (!!). He also made a couple of flashy plays in RF – I’m not sure how good they were actually, or if they were routine plays he made closer than they needed to be due to his stumpy catcher legs, but he looked at home out there. He’s certainly a major league caliber player, though, and better than Daric Barton. Much, much better than Daric Barton.
After that, there wasn’t very much excitement. Luke Gregerson pitched a routine Luke Gregerson clean inning, John Jaso drove home an insurance run in the 8th, and Otero came in for the save. He didn’t exactly look sharp – he came a few feet from giving up a game tying HR to AJ Pierzynski – but he did his job, and picked up the first save of his career.
But the excellence of the bullpen isn’t the story of the game, or the offense, or Pedroia’s dark elven magic, or anything else. The story of the game is Kazmir. Kazmir Kazmir Kazmir Kazmir. He’s good. He’s really good. He’s All-Star good, maybe Cy Young good, and certainly "ace" good. Enjoy it.
Seriously what was with that Pedroia homer, though.