Reporting from Oakland — By the time an Angels reliever started warming up in the fifth inning Saturday, Oakland had already left more footprints on the basepaths than beachgoers in Santa Monica on July 4.
Scott Kazmir had allowed 10 hits and 12 runs when Scot Shields threw his first pitch in the Angels’ bullpen. The Athletics had hit a pair of homers and dropped eight runs on Kazmir during a disastrous third inning.
And it only got worse.
Daric Barton added a solo home run in the fifth to cap the Athletics’ onslaught against Kazmir during a 15-1 trouncing at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
If pitching lines were included in blooper reels, Kazmir’s would be placed on an endless loop. He gave up 11 hits, 13 earned runs, three walks and three homers in five innings.
The embattled starter’s fourth consecutive loss inflated his earned-run average by nearly a full run, to 6.92 from 5.98.
It was the most runs allowed by an Angels starting pitcher in franchise history, surpassing the 11 Scott Schoeneweis gave up May 23, 2001, against Baltimore. Jason Marquis was the last major league pitcher to surrender 13 runs, against the Chicago White Sox on June 21, 2006, as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
It has been a season of struggles for Kazmir (7-9), who has tied a career high for losses before the All-Star break. The left-hander has been especially horrid over his last four starts, averaging fewer than five innings and compiling a 13.73 ERA.
The Angels offense continued its flaccid ways, collecting four hits against Oakland starter Ben Sheets (4-8) and two relievers. Cory Aldridge’s first major league hit, a run-scoring triple in the eighth inning that came 4,873 professional at-bats and nearly nine years after the outfielder made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves, was the only highlight.
After facing only one batter above the minimum over the first two innings, Kazmir quickly unraveled in the third. Rajai Davis doubled to right field, Cliff Pennington tripled to right-center, and the rout was on during an inning that included six hits and was capped by Davis’ grand slam to left-center.
Davis added a run-scoring double as part of the Athletics’ five-run fifth and finished with a career-high five RBIs. But even after Daric Barton crushed a three-run homer to give Oakland a 12-0 lead, Manager Mike Scioscia left Kazmir in the game so that he could complete the inning.
Scioscia said before the game that he had been encouraged by Kazmir’s most recent outing before Friday, when he incorporated more sliders into his repertoire during a 9-2 loss against the White Sox.
“Kaz has really shown some flashes of getting back to being the pitcher we know he can be,” Scioscia said, “and at times it seems like he’s drifting further away from what he needs to do.”
“Last time he showed a little more consistent breaking ball but his fastball command, which is still important to him, wasn’t quite as sharp. So I think he’s not that far off.”