It's fitting that Scott Kazmir 's return to the major leagues comes in his hometown of Houston.
The veteran left-hander takes the mound for the first time in a little more than two years when he tries to help the Cleveland Indians avoid a sixth straight loss Saturday night against the Astros.
Kazmir last pitched in the majors for the Los Angeles Angels on April 3, 2011. He was placed on the disabled list with lower back tightness shortly after and spent time rehabbing in the minors before the Angels released him in June of that year.
After Kazmir spent 2012 pitching near his home in suburban Houston for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League, Cleveland (5-10) signed him to a minor league contract in December. He went 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in four spring training games to earn a spot in the Indians rotation.
"I had to prove more to myself than anything, being out for so long," he told the team's official website. "I was able to do that. It seemed like every day my game was starting to come together, starting to click."
Kazmir's return was delayed after he suffered an oblique injury prior to the season, but he's finally ready to take a major league mound - and for the first time in his hometown.
"You go out there the first time you want to show out, you want to do real (well)," Kazmir said. "At the same time, you don't want to overthrow. You want to stay within yourself and get your game. You have to slow back on that adrenaline."
He allowed three runs and two homers while striking out seven in 5 2-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Houston with Tampa Bay in 2008.
Kazmir hopes to help the Indians get back on track after they were outscored 25-11 during a five-game skid. Lonnie Chisenhall hit a two-run homer but Cleveland stranded nine and went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss Friday."We did have opportunities," manager Terry Francona said. "I think what happens sometimes is, guys try too hard. We had a couple of chances, and we rolled over."
Asdrubal Cabrera went 1 for 3, but struck out in a seventh consecutive contest. The star shortstop is batting .138 (8 for 58) with 18 strikeouts.
He's 4 for 10 with a double against Philip Humber (0-3, 2.89), who hopes to finally get some decent offensive support.
The right-hander has seen the Astros score one run in his three starts. He gave up two runs in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to the Angels on Sunday.
"As a pitcher, you can't really control wins and losses," Humber said. "You just go out there and try to give the team a chance to win when it's our turn. There are times when I go out there and don't deserve to win and my teammates have picked me up.
"That's happened a lot in the past, so you just keep going."
Humber is 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in five starts versus Cleveland.
J.D. Martinez and Rick Ankiel homered Friday as the Astros (5-11) snapped a five-game slide. Martinez, however, is day to day after spraining his right knee in the fourth inning.
Four of Ankiel's six hits in 31 at-bats are home runs.
|April 16, 2013||Jason Kipnis||Day-to-Day||Sore elbow|
|April 15, 2013||Michael Bourn||15-Day DL||Right hand laceration|
|April 14, 2013||Michael Bourn||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hand laceration|
|April 09, 2013||Lou Marson||15-Day DL||Cervical neck strain|
|April 06, 2013||Lou Marson||Day-to-Day||Cervical neck strain|
|April 03, 2013||Scott Kazmir||Day-to-Day||Sore abdominal muscle|
|April 19, 2013||J.D. Martinez||Day-to-Day||Sprained Knee|
|April 05, 2013||Travis Blackley||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|April 04, 2013||Josh Fields||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 31, 2013||Alex White||60-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|March 27, 2013||Fernando Martinez||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
HOUSTON (AP) -- The Cleveland Indians broke out of their offensive slump in a big way on Saturday night.
Now manager Terry Francona is hoping his team can keep it up.
Jason Giambi , Mark Reynolds and Carlos Santana homered, leading the Indians to a 19-6 victory over the Houston Astros .
"We did a good job tonight," Francona said. "The idea now is to be consistent. You're certainly not going to put up those kind of numbers nightly, but try to bounce back tomorrow and go get them again."
Giambi had five RBIs and Reynolds drove in four runs, but Scott Kazmir was unable to get the win in his first major league appearance since he recorded five outs in a start for the Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City on April 3, 2011. The left-hander allowed six runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings.
Cleveland roughed up Philip Humber (0-4) and finished with 22 hits while stopping a five-game slide. It was the highest-scoring game for the Indians since a 19-1 victory at Kansas City on May 16, 2011, and their most hits since they had 25 in a 22-4 win at the New York Yankees on April 18, 2009.
Humber recorded just one out on the eve of the anniversary of his perfect game. He was charged with eight runs and eight hits.
"It's tough to make any adjustments," he said. "It seemed like they were jumping on the first thing I threw over the plate every time and hitting the ball hard."
The Indians managed just 11 runs and 33 hits during their losing streak. The 42-year-old Giambi was 1 for 12 for a .083 batting average coming into the game. His big day raised his average to .188.
Corey Kluber (1-0) pitched four innings of two-hit ball to get the win.
Brandon Barnes hit a two-run homer and Brandon Laird had a solo shot, but it wasn't nearly enough for Houston.
The Indians had nine consecutive batters reach with one out in the first. Giambi belted a two-run double and Reynolds hit a three-run shot.
"I think it helps guys feel better about themselves," Francona said. "I thought they did a good job of that going into the game, but I do think it helps guys loosen up a little bit."
Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera left in the middle of the first inning with a bruised left wrist. Francona said he was injured about five minutes before the game when he slipped down the stairs in the dugout and broke his fall with his left hand. X-rays were negative, and Francona said he was already feeling better after the game.
Cleveland added six more runs in the second, taking advantage of two errors by Houston. Dallas Keuchel also walked Michael Brantley to force home a run.
Nick Swisher tied a career high with four hits, including a career-best three of Cleveland's seven doubles, and Brantley added three RBIs.
"It was finally nice to go out there and relax and know we were in control of the game and just have some fun," Reynolds said. "It's what we talked about before the game was just to have fun."
It was the most runs and hits allowed by Houston since Colorado had 25 hits in a 19-3 victory on Sept. 25, 2011.
Kazmir pitched last season in nearby Sugar Land, Texas for the Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League before signing a minor league contract with the Indians in January.
The 29-year-old started the season on the disabled list with a rib cage strain. He grew up in Houston and Saturday was his first career game at Minute Maid Park.
"I was a little jittery, I definitely had some nerves going," he said. "Overall, stuff I can take out of this start and bring into my next start is what not to do, I guess. I just kind of never really got into the swing of things, the flow of the game throughout my whole outing."
NOTES: It was Giambi's 431st homer, moving him into a tie for 42nd on the career list with Cal Ripken, Jr. ... Humber pitched the 21st perfect game in major league history on April 21, 2012, for the White Sox against the Seattle Mariners . ... These teams wrap up the series on Sunday when Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez opposes Erik Bedard . ... RHP Brett Myers will fly back to Cleveland on Sunday for tests on his sore throwing arm. Myers lost Friday night's game and said afterward he has been struggling with tendinitis in his arm this season. ... Houston placed OF J.D. Martinez on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee sprain and activated outfielder Fernando Martinez from the DL. ... Cleveland optioned INF Cord Phelps to Triple-A Columbus before the game.