It certainly has been a roller coaster ride for Scott Kazmir in recent years, but on Friday night, he flashed the upside that made him a top-level pitcher all those years ago.
Kazmir struck out 12 Mets in 6 innings, and led the Indians to a dominating 8-1 win. The left-hander allowed only 4 hits (and no walks) over those 6 frames, and exited the game with the shutout still in tact. He needed only 97 pitches to confuse and baffle the Mets lineup, and he used his full arsenal to bump his strikeout rate to a blistering 8.67 K’s per 9 innings on the season.
In addition to Kazmir’s excellence, the Indians got a big night from Nick Swisher. Swisher went 2-for-5 with a home run and 4 RBI on the day, and his 8th-inning grand slam took the lead from 3 runs to the final margin of 7 with one swing. Elsewhere, Drew Stubbs and Yan Gomes added 2 hits each, and Michael Bourn reached base 3 times in 4 plate appearances thanks to a 2-walk day.
With the win, the Indians improve to 75-65 on the campaign, and they are still very much in the thick of the playoff hunt. As of this writing, Cleveland is tied with the Yankees and Orioles, trailing the Rays by just 2.5 games for the final Wild Card spot in the American League. It has already been a positive season for the Indians, but if they can get this level of performance from Kazmir, they could jump to a new level.