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SAN FRANCISCO – The postgame reviews of Scott Kazmir are getting a bit predictable from A’s manager Bob Melvin.
When the left-hander is on, the dominant results do start to blend together a little bit. In his final start before the All-Star Game, Kazmir showed why he’s been one of the American League’s best starters this season.
He fired seven shutout innings and held the Giants to three hits in a 6-1 Oakland victory Thursday afternoon at AT&T Park. His fastball popped the glove as high as 95 on the stadium radar gun, and he complemented it with lively breaking stuff.
“It seems like they’re all the same to me,” Melvin said. “He gives up it seems like zero, one, two runs … gets you deep in games. He’s been as consistent as anybody in the league. Both leagues.”
Kazmir pocketed his 11th victory and lowered his ERA to 2.38, third best in the A.L. For the 11th time in 19 starts, he allowed one run or fewer. And given that Tuesday’s All-Star Game would be his regular day to pitch, he presents one enticing case to perhaps be the A.L. starter for the Midsummer Classic.
“That’s not my call. There are probably several guys they’re choosing from.”
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Indeed, A.L. manager John Farrell of Boston will have several candidates to choose from based on pitching schedules and who would be on sufficient rest. Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, who goes Friday against the A’s at Safeco Field, might be the favorite. Rangers ace Yu Darvish has come out and endorsed Hernandez, who is 10-2 and currently has Kazmir bested in ERA (2.11 to 2.38) and WHIP (0.89 to 0.98).
Those numbers likely will change one way or another with Friday’s outing, but even on three days’ rest, it figures Hernandez could probably be good for an inning or two in the All-Star Game.
The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka is on the disabled list. Other candidates such as Toronto’s Mark Buehrle, Boston’s Jon Lester and Darvish currently have numbers inferior to Kazmir’s. The White Sox’s Chris Sale leads the A.L. in ERA (2.08) and WHIP (0.84), but he needed to win the fan vote for the final All-Star spot just to get in the game. Farrell passed over him when selecting an injury replacement for Tanaka, so it seems unlikely Sale would get the starting nod.
Kazmir (11-3) says he hasn’t given the matter any consideration.
“I’ll think about it whenever I get to Minneosta,” he said. “We’re concentrating on finishing the first half strong.”
The A’s built some steam going into a three-game series against the Mariners that leads into the All-Star break. They took three of four from the Giants, and over the past eight games, their starters are 6-1 with a 1.04 ERA.
The offense took care of business Thursday as well, striking for four runs in the sixth and driving Tim Hudson (7-6) from the game.
By then it was 6-0 A’s, and that was plenty for Kazmir, who struck out nine and walked one. His biggest hiccup didn’t even come from a Giants hitter. In the fifth inning, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez called timeout while Kazmir was in mid-delivery and the lefty fell off to the side of the mound awkwardly without throwing a pitch.
He said he “tweaked” his leg a bit, but he didn’t show any visible effects through the rest of his outing.
“If I had thought about it and done it over again, I would have actually thrown the pitch,” Kazmir said.
The duel with Hudson was actually a battle of two free agents the A’s both wanted last winter. They made an aggressive run at Hudson before he chose the Giants. Then they signed Kazmir to a two-year $22 million contract. They have to be very happy with that development from their standpoint.
“I had a great angle at first base to see the movement on his pitches,” said A’s first baseman Stephen Vogt, who also catches. “The way he moves (hitters) eyes, he dots up the corners and he gets people to chase pitches. He’s doing such a great job.”