OAKLAND – With Derek Norris stealing the spotlight with his two-homer day, Scott Kazmir’s excellent outing went under the radar in the A’s 9-1 victory Sunday over Washington.
After Oakland jumped out to a 7-0 lead after two innings, Kazmir made sure the Nationals wouldn’t harbor hopes of jumping back in it. He tossed seven shutout innings and didn’t walk a batter for the fourth time in his eight starts. His five wins are tied for second in the American League, and he lowered his ERA to 2.28.
“He finds different ways to do things,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It seems like some days he can throw 94 (mph), and other days he’s throwing 89, 90 but mixing up his pitches. Today you saw anywhere from 70 mph to 90 and 91, and he has four pitches you have to deal with.”
Kazmir’s effort helped the A’s complete a three-game sweep and run their winning streak to four. That’s a nice rebound after they lost five of their previous six. They lead the A.L. West by three games over the Los Angeles Angels as the White Sox arrive Monday for a three-game series at the Coliseum that closes out this 10-game homestand.
“It just gets us right back on track,” Kazmir said of the weekend sweep. “It’s a long season. You go through some skids and then you just kind of bounce back, and a sweep like this really gets us back on track.”
The White Sox are just 19-20 but they’ve scored the most runs in the A.L. with 197. They also feature rookie sensation Jose Abreu, who leads the league in both homers (13) and RBI (37). A Cuban defector, the 27-year-old Abreu signed a six-year $68 million contract with the White Sox in the offseason. It marked the richest first-time major league contract ever for an international player.
Melvin said Sunday morning that he and his coaches had already been studying video of the first baseman.
“Maybe we’ll get a little inside scouting report from Yoenis (Cespedes). I know he knows him,” Melvin said. “The numbers speak for themselves. He’s having a great rookie season, and he’s dangerous to any part of the field.”