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Game #82: A's dominate behind Kazmir's gem

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Scott Kazmir cruised through 8 innings, giving up just 2 hits to the Mariners. The offense did its share behind Josh Phegley's 2 run double and Marcus Semien's dinger.

Want an awesome catcher? Too bad, we're keeping both.
Want an awesome catcher? Too bad, we're keeping both.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I really enjoy games where we score the winning run 12 minutes after first pitch.

The A's got on the board in the first inning today, granting us all relief from the fear of another lefty shutout. After Billy Burns and Stephen Vogt grounded out weakly to open the frame, Ben Zobrist walked to keep the inning alive. Billy Butler followed with a smash down the left field line, continuing his recent streak of hot hitting and putting runners at second and third. Josh Phegley stepped to the plate, and lofted a 1-2 changeup down the rightfield line for a soft yet effective double, plating both Zobrist and Butler to give the A's a 2-0 lead.

If I were a Mariner fan, I'd probably be slightly peeved at Phegley's weak line drive double. The pitch was a six inches off the plate, and line drive is a generous term, but it was still a fantastic job of hitting. Phegley went with the pitch, squared it up, didn't try to do too much with it, and got the A's the early lead they've craved so often against left handed pitching.

The A's added their 3rd run in the fifth inning on a Marcus Semien homerun. I don't think anyone has ever deserved a homerun quite as much as Marcus has. Over the past month, Semien has hit 74 line drives (estimated) and has had 0 to show for it. In his first at bat tonight, Semien hit a rocket, which of course, found the glove of left fielder Franklin Gutierrez. After that, Semien decided enough is enough, and deposited his 7th home run of the year in the left field bleacher. I have no doubt that Semien's offensive output is about to skyrocket, as his good swings are going to result in positive outcomes at some point.

Defensively, Semien was studly tonight fielding every ball hit his way flawlessly. He even ranged far to his left to make a difficult albeit somewhat routine play. A few errors here and there aside, he has looked like a passable defensive shortstop for a few weeks now, and if his hitting turns around like many of us expect, he should be a real weapon. Hopefully BrooksBaseball isn't Nostradamus:

The A's tacked on their final run in the seventh. With Lawrie on first, Mark Canha launched a deep triple to right center, plating Lawrie as Canha tumbled into third. The triple came against another RHP, and while his struggles against lefties continued in his first 2 at bats, it's clear that the man needs to play every day. A few lessons on running and sliding might not hurt the guy, though.

You've probably noticed I have yet to delve into the lede. That's just because I didn't want to sully Kazmir's outstanding work by lumping him in with our offense. Kazmir's start tonight was arguably the most dominant pitching performance we've seen from an Oakland Athletic this year. Kazmir allowed just two hits, both to Franklin Gutierrez (who sidenote, has actually dominated the man throughout his career). The only other baserunner Kazmir allowed was a hit by pitch to Logan Morrison in the 8th, which isn't the worst thing that's happened to that guy.

Kazmir cruised through his eight innings, throwing 10 pitches in an inning on three separate occasions and not laboring at any time. Six of his seven k's were looking, giving you an idea at how lost the M's were against Kazmir's fully functional arsenal. With all the trade talk surrounding Scott, it's easy to forget that as of right now, he should be deep in the conversation for the All Star team, and if voting were done today, he would garner some points in the Cy Young poll. His ERA stands at 2.59, good for fifth in the league and has been rapidly descending.

I don't think we've ever fully appreciated how awesome Scott Kazmir has been. Prior to coming to the A's, Kazmir was a walking version of the game Operation, built from similar faulty fibers as Brett Anderson. Since arriving in Oakland, Scott has worked hard to stay healthy and has been a great #2 for most of his time on the field. The longest he'll be here is through the end of the season, so take time to savor his weird, karate esque leg kick, his filthy changeup, and his full maturation into a smart and dominant pitcher.

Some notes:

  • Eric Chavez was in the booth today, and after his normal stiff and awkward start, he was pretty decent. He provided some insight onto Robinson Cano's struggles (apparently the man has a stomach problem) and was more opinionated throughout the day. Eric Chavez is the broadcasting version of Marcus Semien: after just a few short months, we thought both needed to be exiled as far from the A's as possible, but over time both have grown to be solid at their position, with no chance of excellence. Still, I'm happy Eric Chavez is improving, even if it means I'll have to find a new sleep medicine.
  • Billy Butler continues to swing the bat well, and even though he hit the ball on the ground today, he still made good contact which were borderline line drives.
  • If Mark Canha isn't starting the rest of this series I'm going directly to NewBob's house to protest.
  • Sonny Gray was in the dugout today, and while it's possible they were pulling a Weekend at Bernie's move, it looks like he was alive. Breath deep, y'all.
  • If you're disappointed about the A's DFAing a 6'8" guy, with limited throwing ability, fear not, as the A's may have found a replacement

Finally, I'd like to say one last thank you to Scott Kazmir. On the eve of a long weekend, hours before many of us will lock our doors and drive hundreds of miles to stuff our faces in a slightly different location, Scott did us the favor of giving us hours of our lives to pack, clean, and procrastinate for our weekends away. In a quick 2 hours and 17 minutes, the A's disposed of the Mariners. For that, I thank you.