Finally. Scott Kazmir would not admit to feeling that way, but it was evident in his demeanor and discussions following his first win in professional baseball in nearly two years.
Behind Kazmir’s eight strong innings on the mound on Wednesday, the Sugar Land Skeeters shut down the Bridgeport Bluefish, 6-1, at Constellation Field to close out their series with a win and secure a winning homestand (4-2).
Kazmir allowed one run on just two hits and a walk in his eight innings of work. He struck out three Bluefish batters.
It was Kazmir’s longest outing of the season and earned the lefthander from his first win in pro ball since September 19, 2010, when he defeated the Tampa Bay Rays while pitching for the Los Angeles Angels.
“I had a strikeout pitch tonight but I didn’t get to use it as much as I actually (thought I) needed to because they were swinging at the first and second pitches,” Kazmir explained afterward.
After allowing a two-out home run to Prentice Redman in the first and a two-out single in the second, the Cypress Falls grad settled into a groove, thanks to the best command he has exhibited this season.
“I got ahead and stayed ahead,” Kazmir said. “I feel like all my pitches had good action and deception.”
Kazmir (1-6) retired the final 13 batters he faced. He coaxed 11 ground ball outs and needed only 92 pitches on the night.
“That’s what he’s got to learn how to do,” said manager Gary Gaetti. “Before, he could just power guys.”
Kazmir attributed some of the comfort on the mound to the early run support he got.
After Redman’s first-inning homer, the Skeeters responded with a pair of runs in the first and two more in the second inning.
Bubba Bell’s two-RBI single in the first gave Sugar Land a 2-1 lead.
In the second, the Skeeters added to the lead when Ofilio Castro drove in Manny Mejia with a single, and Dominic Ramos scored Octavio Martinez with a ground out.
“It felt good,” Kazmir said of the early run support. “It was a little easier to settle into a groove and relax out there.”
As an exclamation point to the evening, the Skeeters added two insurance runs in the eighth on back-to-back home runs by Mejia and Iggy Suarez that extended the lead to 6-1.
Roberto Giron pitched a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the victory for Kazmir, who summed up his feelings about finally removing the zero from his win total for the year.
“It is nice to have some numbers to show what I feel like I’ve been trying to do here,” he stated.
The win also kept the Skeeters from losing ground to the Lancaster Barnstormers in the standings. Lancaster defeated Somerset, 14-5, on Wednesday to remain 4-1/2 games ahead of York and 6-1/2 in front of Sugar Land in the Freedom Division second-half standings.
The Skeeters have 23 games remaining in the regular season.
The team has a day off on Thursday before beginning a two-city, seven-game, seven-day road trip.
Sugar Land opens the trip with three games against the Camden Riversharks over the weekend, followed by four important games against the York Revolution.