Angels stick with Scott Kazmir despite MLB-worst 6.92 ERA

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Scott Kazmir has the highest ERA in baseball among pitchers with at least 50 innings this season, allowing 71 earned runs in 92 frames for a ghastly 6.92 mark. In his final start of the first half Saturday he allowed a franchise-record 13 runs in five innings against an Oakland lineup that ranks among the AL’s worst, making him 0-4 with a 13.72 ERA in his last four outings.
And despite all of that, the Angels are sticking with him in the rotation to begin the second half. Kazmir will start Tuesday against the Yankees in New York, which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
Kazmir’s struggles date back to last year, when he had a 5.92 ERA in 20 starts for the Rays and showed decreased velocity, averaging a career-low 90.5 miles per hour with his fastball. He pitched well in six starts down the stretch before struggling in the playoffs, but the Angels’ decision to trade infielder Sean Rodriguez and pitching prospect Alex Torres for Kazmir was highly questionable at the time and looks downright terrible now.
Kazmir is making $8 million this season and is still owed $12 million next season plus $13.5 million or a $2.5 million buyout in 2012. Rodriguez has a decent .726 OPS as the Rays’ part-time second baseman and Torres is thriving at Double-A as a 22-year-old. In other words, unless pitching coach Mike Butcher can work some kind of miracle with Kazmir the trade is only going to look worse and worse for the Angels.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.