Programming note: A’s-Angels coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
ANAHEIM -– The A’s did a little more tinkering with their rotation as they prepared to begin a four-day battle with the Angels for first place in the American League West.
Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir were flip-flopped in their starting assignments this weekend, with Samardzija being pushed up to Saturday and the lefty Kazmir being pushed back to Sunday’s finale.
“We’re just giving Kaz a little bit more time, and it’ll split the lefties up,” manager Bob Melvin said before Thursday’s series opener at Angel Stadium. “We’ve been looking for a way to do that here for a little while, so it’s two-fold.”
Lefty Jon Lester will take the ball Friday night, so Samardzija, a right-hander who struck out 10 in a strong showing Monday against the Houston Astros, will wedge in between Lester and Kazmir.
The Angels knocked Kazmir around for seven runs in just three innings on Sunday at the Coliseum.
Kazmir, an All-Star this season and a 14-game winner, hasn’t been as sharp over the past two months as he was early in the season. He’s posted a 4.57 ERA over his last 11 starts and allowed a .280 opponents’ batting average. Compare that to the 2.08 ERA he showed over his first 15 starts and the .203 clip opponents were hitting against him to that point.
Melvin was asked if Kazmir appears to be showing signs of fatigue.
“I don’t know. Just when you think maybe he looks a little tired, he goes out and pitches a great game,” Melvin said. “He’s been really consistent for us. It’s been a while since he’s pitched the innings he’s pitched this year. ‘Shark’ (Samardzija) feels really good right now, so it just gave us an opportunity to give Kaz an extra day.”
Kazmir is at exactly 158 innings, the exact total he finished it for all of last season with Cleveland.
As the rotation currently stands, Kazmir would have five more regular season starts. By the time he makes his next start, Kazmir will have thrown more innings than he’s thrown in any season since racking up 206 2/3 innings in 2007 with Tampa Bay.