Kazmir allowed just one hit over eight innings, Michael Bourn hit his first career grand slam and the Cleveland Indians downed the Seattle Mariners 10-1 Wednesday afternoon.
The only hit Kazmir (6-4) gave up was a clean leadoff single to center by Justin Smoak in the fifth. Kazmir struck out seven, walked two and allowed an unearned run.
Kazmir came up with Tampa Bay in 2004 and was 55-44 in his six seasons before being traded for the Angels in 2009. The Angels paid him more than $35 million but he lost his velocity and command, won just 11 games before being released in 2011. He played in the Independent League last season.
“I’m even better now. I feel I’m a more complete pitcher,” said Kazmir, who signed a free-agent deal with the Tribe. “I don’t have to throw hard every pitch. I can throw hard when I need it but I’m throwing my secondary pitches more now.”
He nearly was a complete-game pitcher against the Mariners. Kazmir, who threw 103 pitches, pretended to hide from manager Terry Francona when he came down the dugout in the eighth to tell him his day was over.
“I wanted to go out there for the last one,” said Kazmir, who has thrown just one complete game in his 198 career starts, a two-hit 3-0 shutout on July 3, 2006, with Tampa Bay against Boston. “But I understand.”
Vinnie Pestano took over in the ninth.
“For what he’s been through and where he’s at, that (working the ninth) would have been more managing with my heart than my brain.” Francona said.
“From Day 1 he’s been great. He’s had a couple rocky starts but he’s been a good pitcher for us. We’re proud of him because he’s come a long way. He felt he had a lot to prove and he’s certainly done that. He’s got a lot of baseball left in him.”
Kazmir is 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 12 walks over his past seven starts.
“He had a little bit of everything,” Smoak said. “His fastball was deceptive. He’s throwing a cutter now and I’ve never seen that before. He had a good ballgame.”
Bourn blew the game open in the fifth with his slam on a full-count pitch from reliever Hector Noesi.
Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits, including his eighth home run. Carlos Santana had three hits, including a pair of RBI doubles.
It was the ninth time the Indians have scored at least 10 runs this season and the 14th time Seattle has allowed 10 or more.
The Indians had lost four of their first five games out of the break and had fallen to 3½ games behind Detroit in the AL Central.
The loss ended the Mariners’ eight-game win streak, their longest since Aug. 14-22, 2012.
Joe Saunders (9-9) took the loss. He lasted just 4⅔ innings, allowing five earned runs on nine hits, walking three and striking out five.
He entered the game with a 4-0 record and 1.73 ERA in his previous four starts and is 11-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 19 career starts at Safeco Field.
“I felt like I was all around the plate today,” Saunders said. “(Catcher Henry Blanco) did a good job back there. We just flat out got outplayed, outpitched, outhit.”
From the first pitch, the Indians — and Bourn — had Saunders off-balance. Bourn opened with a drag bunt, easily beating the throw. Nick Swisher walked and Jason Kipnis advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt.
Cabrera followed with a two-run double into the left-center gap. Cabrera came home on Santana’s ground-rule double to left for a 3-0 score.
“Bournsey set the tone like that,” Francona said. “Playing with the lead is welcomed any time.”
The Mariners got a gift run in the second. With two outs and Jason Bay on first, Michael Saunders bounced to shortstop Cabrera. He threw wide of second for an error and Bay raced home.
The Mariners returned the favor in the third when center fielder Michael Saunders misread a Cabrera flyball for a two-base error. Santana drove him home with his second straight double.
The Tribe rallied in the fifth after two outs. Mark Reynolds singled and Yan Homes walked, ending Saunders’ outing. Noesi walked Drew Stubbs and Bourn cranked a fastball over the right-center wall for his third home run.
“To be honest, I seen a good pitch out of his hand and I was just trying to put the bat on the ball,” Bourn said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much but I guess that’s when it happens.”