Programming note: Coverage of Indians-A's starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with A's Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California
OAKLAND -- Scott Kazmir authored a nice individual comeback story last season for the Cleveland Indians, but his team enjoyed quite a ride as well.
When the left-hander makes his Oakland A’s debut Tuesday night against Cleveland, he’ll be facing a team he can’t help but still feel a connection to. The Indians, who went 68-94 in 2012, went on a torrid late-season run last season to finish 92-70 and claim one of the American League’s two wild card spots.
Cleveland lost to Tampa Bay in the wild card game, but it was a storybook season for the Indians, not unlike the 2012 A’s and their improbable run to a division championship.
Kazmir said there will be some emotions involved Tuesday staring in at hitters he was teammates with last season.
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“It was an unlikely group of guys that came together,” said Kazmir, who went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA but enjoyed an excellent second half. “There’s always going to be something there for those guys.”
Tuesday’s game would set up as a memorable night for Kazmir regardless of who he’s facing. He signed a two-year $22 million contract in the offseason, the payoff for his rebound season in Cleveland after being out of the majors most of the previous two seasons as he struggled mightily with his pitching mechanics.
Kazmir enjoyed a strong spring for the A’s and was particularly sharp in Thursday’s exhibition against the Giants, tossing 5 1/3 shutout innings. A’s manager Bob Melvin was asked how valuable a resource Kazmir would be for his teammates considering he knows the Indians so well.
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“Definitely, anytime you have somebody from another team, you lean on them for certain things,” Melvin said. “The fact that he’s seen their hitters and they haven’t faced him (is an advantage). But once you get into the course of the game, it goes by the wayside.”