On that fateful day, August 31st, 2009, the Rays traded Scott Kazmir to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. One of the players they acquired just happened to be a hard-throwing lefty that had to remind them of Kazmir, Alex Torres. Both Kazmir and Torres (and also Victor Zambrano, the player who the Rays traded to get Kazmir) pitched on Wednesday, and to very different results.
Mexican Pacific League: Venados de Mazatlan 7, Mayos de Navojoa 5
The Mayos jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third inning of this one, but the rest of the game was all Mazatlan as they won 7-5. With 1 run in, 2 outs, and the bases loaded in the third, Wes Bankston stepped up to the plate and did what he always seems to do for Navojoa: come up in the cluch. Bankston delivered a grand slam and the Mayos looked to roll.But a 3-run homer by Chris Walker in the 8th capped off a gradual collapse by the Mayos as Mazatlan won 7-5. Bankston won 1 for 4 in the game, but there actually was another Rays player who made his first appearance of the MPL season. Matt Buschmann tossed the last 1.1 innings for Mazatlan and was excellent, going 1.1 perfect inning throwing 9 of 11 pitches for strikes and forcing 4 groundouts. Great to see Buschmann pitching well- and his appearance in the bullpen may be a preview of the type of role he could play for the Rays next season.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico): Cangrejeros de Santurce 4, Gigantes de Carolina
Scott Kazmir’s low-90’s fastball is back and big league teams are interested. But he has to find more consistency.In this game, Kazmir flashed dominance, striking out the side in the 4th inning. But he also allowed 4 extra-base hits including a Luis Rivera home run, struggling with command as his groundball to flyball ratio in the game was 7-7. At the end of the day, Kazmir went 4.1 innings allowing 4 runs on 7 hits. However, the promise is still there as he struck out 4 while walking none. Kazmir’s command is a complete work in progress right now, but part of that has to be Kazmir readjusting to have a plus fastball at his disposal. Hopefully Kazmir can continue making progress this winter and work his way towards a return to the big leagues. Kazmir was followed in this game by ex-Rays prospect Eddie Morlan, who went 1.2 perfect innings striking out 2, while Felipe Lopez went 1 for 2 with a double and Jesus Feliciano went 1 for 5 with a double and a run scored.
Venezuelan Winter League: Bravos de Margarita 9, Leones de Caracas 0
Henry Wrigley (along with the rest of the Leones) had a rough game, going 0 for 2, but he did draw a walk (yay!) while striking out twice (not again!). Victor Zambrano went 1.2 innings for Caracas allowing an unearned run on 3 hits, striking out 1.
Navegantes de Magallanes 10, Aguilas de Zulia 0
This seems very weird to say, but don’t be fooled by the score- this game was a 0-0 game other than a 10-run 6th inning by the Navegatnes. Alex Torres was out of the game by then. Torres came through with his third straight promising start, going 5 shutout innings allowing just 3 hits, striking out just 2 while walking 1 but posting an outstanding 12-3 groundball to flyball ratio. Great to see Torres in control- and he finally got his ERA on the VWL season under 4.00 at 3.99. Torres’ strikeout to walk ratio on the season is also an impressive 65-22. Torres had a major rough patch on the middle of the season, but overall Torres has been excellent in Venezuela. Erold Andrus also went 0 for 4 with a run scored for Magallanes.