For five months the Angels have done everything short of placing a "help wanted" ad to fill out their shaky rotation, trying 13 different starters and auditioning five rookies -- mostly in vain.
Then two hours after the long-sought trade became official, they celebrated in style, scoring seven times in the seventh inning to rally for an 11-7 win over the Oakland Athletics.
The victory was only the second in six games for the Angels and it required a lot of heavy lifting from Kendry Morales, who had a career-high five hits -- including two homers and two doubles -- and matched a career-high with six runs batted in. That's the kind of offense that should help ease Kazmir's discomfort over leaving the reigning American League champions for a team that now has a good shot at wearing the crown this fall.
"There's always disappointment but you have to look at the business side. And I'm going to a quality organization with the Angels," Kazmir told reporters in Detroit, where the Rays played the Tigers. "They're always in contention, competing to make the playoffs every year."
That task just got easier with the acquisition of a pitcher the Angels have openly sought for the better part of two months. But to get him they had to part with promising minor leaguers Alex Torres, a left-handed pitcher, and infielder Matt Sweeney as well as a player to be named.
"We're not expecting him to come in and be a savior," Angels General Manager Tony Reagins said. "We're looking for him to come in and be Scott Kazmir. And if does that, we'll be fine."
Well, maybe. The left-hander has been on the disabled list in three of the last four seasons because of shoulder, elbow and quadriceps problems. As a result, he has thrown more than 186 innings only once in his career. But Reagins said the Angels were impressed with what they saw in Kazmir's last start three days ago in Toronto, where he held the Blue Jays to a run and four hits in six innings, striking out a season-high 10 batters with a fastball that touched 95 mph on the radar gun.
The trade for Kazmir will push Trevor Bell out of the rotation, though the rookie right-hander might have been gone anyway after Friday's effort, one in which he gave up five runs and five hits and a walk in the span of seven batters.
That marked the second consecutive poor outing for Bell, who has given up 11 runs in his last four innings. It also put his team in a 5-1 hole midway through the third inning.
But it didn't stay that way for long, with Morales driving in a sixth-inning run with a double, then belting a go-ahead three-run homer an inning later. Brian Fuentes got the last two outs for his major league-leading 37th save.
And though Kazmir was still two time zones away when that happened, new teammate Torii Hunter was quick to give him some of the credit.
"We started hearing about it about the fourth or fifth inning. It started circulating," he said of the trade. "That little spark, I guess that's what it was.
"We're filling that hole with a pretty good pitcher. Just having him in the rotation can stop a lot of losing streaks. No excuses now. That's why I came over here. These guys, they want to win. And it showed today."