SEATTLE — Scott Kazmir feels he’s a complete pitcher now, not just a hard thrower.
Kazmir allowed just one hit over his eight innings, Michael Bourn hit his first career grand slam and the 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 to 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. I’m more of a complete pitcher.”
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 last one,” Kazmir said. “But I understand.”
Kazmir has thrown just one complete game in his 198 career starts. That was a two-hit 3-0 shutout on July 3, 2006 with Tampa Bay against Boston. 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 one he’s been great. He’s had a couple rocky starts but he’s been a good pitcher for us,” he added. “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 now 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,” said Smoak. “His fastball was deceptive. He is throwing a cutter now and I’ve never seen that before. He had a good ball game.”
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 3 ½ games behind Detroit in the AL Central.
The loss ended the Mariners’ eight-game win streak, their longest since Aug. 14-22, 2012. They were going for their first nine-game streak since May 27-June 5, 2003.
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 now 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. “Henry (catcher Henry Blanco) did a good job back there. We just flat-out got out-played, out-pitched, out-hit. Just one of those days.”
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 sac-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 miss-read a Cabrera flyball for a two-base error. Santana drove him home with his second straight double into the left-field corner.
The Tribe rallied in the fifth after two outs. Mark Reynolds singled and Yan Homes walked, ended Saunders’ outing. Noesi walked Drew Stubbs and Bourn cranked a fastball over the right-center wall, 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.”
Mariners 4, Indians 3
The mistake Drew Stubbs made was overthinking.
Representing the tying run for Cleveland and standing at third base in the ninth inning with no outs, Stubbs had all the scenarios ready in his mind. When Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager threw down to second base to get the first out of the inning there, Stubbs knew he should have immediately broke for home and relied on his speed.
Instead — he hesitated.
“It’s a play you’ve got to run through scenarios in your head and make your mind up and go with it,” Stubbs said. “Any slight hesitation is going to cost you like it did.”
Stubbs’ miscue capped a night of mistakes for the Indians in a loss to the Mariners.
The ninth started promising for Cleveland.
Mark Reynolds singling on the first pitch of the inning off Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen. Stubbs came on to pinch run and went racing to third on Lonnie Chisenhall’s single up the middle to put runners on the corners with no outs.
That’s when the craziness began.
Yan Gomes hit a chopper to third. Seager briefly looked at Stubbs and quickly threw to second to get pinch runner Mike Aviles. Stubbs found himself unsure whether to sprint for the plate or stay at third. When he started to break for home, Nick Franklin was already throwing home. Stubbs was caught in a run down and eventually tagged out by shortstop Brad Miller.
It was a fundamentally solid play mostly by a group of Seattle players that haven’t been in the big leagues for very long.
Stubbs said he never should have hesitated once Seager threw to second.
Wilhelmsen then struck out Michael Bourn looking to end it.