After dropping the first three games of the series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Los Angeles Dodgers found themselves in an early deficit on Monday afternoon at PNC Park. A loss meant the Pirates’ first sweep of the Dodgers in a four-game series since 1944.
Scott Kazmir labored through the first inning, allowing four runs, two hits and walking three batters. The southpaw needed 40 pitches to get through the frame and appeared destined for a short outing.
However, as has been the case in multiple starts this season, the southpaw turned the corner and settled in. Kazmir set the Pirates down in order in the second, third and fourth innings. At point he retired 12 consecutive batters in a row.
He got through five innings of work and exited with a 5-4 lead. After the Dodgers’ come-from-behind victory, Kazmir explained his early struggles were perhaps due to the humid weather, and said he’s considering a change in his routine, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Honestly, I didn’t feel like my energy was there, don’t know if the heat zapped me but I kind of felt under water that first inning,” he said. ” As soon as I got in the dugout, I cooled off and I woke up. We’re trying to get some answers [why]. I talked to [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] about the way I felt, and maybe next outing we’ll do a simulated first inning to get that focus and adrenaline going instead of using all that [pregame] time to get loose. It doesn’t feel like I’m locked in.”
Kazmir’s final inning wasn’t without some stress as Andrew McCutchen reached on a two-out single and Jung-Ho Kang drew a walk. The 32 year old escaped the jam by getting Starling Marte to strikeout. McCutchen’s single in the fifth was the lone hit Kazmir allowed after the first inning.
The first inning has been Kazmir’s problem all season and the numbers indicate so. In the opening frame, he owns a 9.00 ERA and opponents are batting .342/.429/.479. Overall, Kazmir is 6-3 with a 4.67 ERA, 4.57 FIP and 1.32 WHIP.