ARLINGTON, Texas – Scott Kazmir wore a look of both joy and relief after his stellar outing in the A’s 6-2 victory over the Rangers on Friday night.
Showing sharpness and command with all his pitches, Kazmir threw seven innings of four-hit ball to ring up his 15th victory in his final regular-season start. It also had to encourage manager Bob Melvin, after the lefty had been showing signs of possible fatigue with his struggles down the stretch.
“It was a big outing for him,” Melvin said. “He even said it was a big outing.”
In his previous start against the Phillies, Kazmir was given a lead three different times, only to let Philadelphia come back and tie it each time. On Friday the A’s scored twice in the third to command a 2-1 lead. This time, Kazmir held his ground. He retired 12 of 13 from one stretch bridging the first and fifth innings, and he didn’t walk a batter in a 101-pitch outing.
“Being able to hold the lead after the second inning, that was huge,” Kazmir said. “ I just wanted to go out there and get outs. But this was a huge one right here. It felt good. The fastball command was there, that was key for me. I was able to work inside, for the most part, the entire game with that fastball.”
After the win, the A’s immediately adjourned to the visitor’s clubhouse at Globe Life Park and watched the duration of the Seattle Mariners-Los Angeles Angels game, needing a Seattle defeat to clinch a wild-card berth.
The Mariners won, so Oakland’s magic number remained at one with two games left. All the A's (87-73) have to do is win Saturday or Sunday, or have Seattle lose once, and they'll be assured of playing in Tuesday's A.L. wild card game. Should the A's lose twice and the Mariners win twice to pull into a tie, the teams will play a Monday tiebreaker in Seattle to determine who gets the wild card.
Despite that outcome, the A’s got good news regarding third baseman Josh Donaldson. He stayed in the game after banging his left knee hard in the third inning, and it appears he escaped serious injury. Donaldson said he’ll get re-examined before Saturday night’s game, but that he intends to play the A’s final two regular-season games so long as he’s not in excruciating pain.
The All-Star third baseman had an MRI on his left knee in late August and had to miss a game. He’s also had hamstring issues in that leg, but this injury was different.
“On the replay I saw, it looked like I just pushed all my weight down on the front part of my knee,” Donaldson said. “I didn’t hear anything pop, which was good. That’s why I tried to get up and walk it off. … It didn’t get any worse, which was good. Hopefully I’ll be in there tomorrow. I wanna be there for my team, and this is the most important time of the year.”
“He’s tough as nails,” A’s closer Sean Doolittle said. “His leg’s gonna have to be off his body for him to not stay in the game.”
Doolittle also talked of a desire to get veteran designated hitter Adam Dunn into the postseason for the first time in his 14-year big league career.
It was Dunn’s two-run double that gave the A’s the lead for good in the third.
“We’ve all seen guys who have worked so hard to get there, and it’s taken them so long,” Doolittle said. “But once you’re on a team with somebody and you see how bad they want it, and you see what kind of career they’ve had and still haven’t gotten to the playoffs, you pull for a guy like that. You wanna soak that guy in champagne really bad.”