ANAHEIM -- It took left-hander Scott Kazmir his third start for the Angels' Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees, to have an encouraging performance. But true to the old adage, it's better late than never. Though the 27-year-old was saddled with his third straight loss Friday, he threw six innings and surrendered only two runs on three hits and five walks against Sacramento. He also struck out five batters. The outing is by far his best performance since being bumped down to the Triple-A level. In his first start, he went just 1 2/3 innings and was hammered for six runs on two hits and four walks.
His second appearance for Salt Lake was slightly longer, but not any better. Kazmir lasted 2 1/3 innings on May 29, giving up 10 runs on six hits and three walks. "It was kind of a flip of a coin if I was going to be able to get it over the plate," he said after his first start. "It really had no direction and no drive straight to the plate." Kazmir's fastball reportedly hit as high as 92 mph on Friday. That's a welcome sign to manager Mike Scioscia after Kazmir has hovered around 86-89 for most of the year. "His last two innings were strong," Scioscia said. "He was about 88-92 with much better command. ... All in all, he got over 100 pitches through six innings and finished very strong." Kazmir's ERA is a dismal 16.20 through his three starts, but Scioscia and the Angels are still optimistic. "It's definitely encouraging," Scioscia said. "We'll see him in five more days down there and see if he's still moving forward."