OAKLAND, Calif. — Scott Kazmir's season is in the balance.
After a frustrating beginning and an encouraging ending to Tuesday's start, the Rays ace said his extended struggles are the product of problems with his delivery, and once he solves those he should start winning again.
"It's so frustrating," Kazmir said. "It's been a disappointment so far. It really has. Hopefully I come back at the right time."
Sitting in the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon reviewing video of his previous night's work, Kazmir (8-6, 3.22) said he didn't have to watch the pitch to know where it went; he could tell by his footwork.
When he kept his stride short and his front leg bent, he delivered the ball how he wanted to and threw it where he was supposed to. But when his leg was stiff, and he wasn't able to come over the top, he didn't do either.
"I just have to be more balanced," Kazmir said.
As a result, he continued a disturbing trend, throwing too many pitches, in this case, 97 — including 43 balls — in only five innings.
Kazmir hasn't made it through six innings in nine of his past 11 starts, and in those nine, only 61.4 percent of his pitches were strikes (or put in play). In his first eight starts, when he was 6-2, he threw strikes on 66 percent of his pitches.
Tuesday, he had trouble getting comfortable at first with the shorter stride, and it showed as he went to a full count on six of the first eight batters, including four in a 33-pitch second inning, including his only true mistake, a two-run homer by Bobby Crosby as the Rays lost 2-1.
He got better as the night went on, retiring his last seven, though he had two more full counts, and he said he is confident he will carry that over to his next start in Texas on Sunday.
Manager Joe Maddon also thinks he is close to turning it around.
"The velocity was really good," Maddon said. "I still believe it's about rhythm, feel, tempo. He's just a little bit still too internal thinking about his mechanics; we've just got to get him to focus on the glove and stay aggressive and he'll be fine."http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball ... 770332.ece