After all, he helped pitched the Rays to their improbable run to the World Series last season and had impressive career ERAs of 3.59 and 2.57 against the Red Sox and Yankees, respectively.
But the 25-year-old admittedly hasn't delivered against those two high-powered opponents for the Angels this postseason, and it certainly showed in a 10-1 loss in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees on Tuesday.
After yielding five runs over six innings in his start against Boston in the Division Series, Kazmir wasn't sharp for the second successive outing, giving up four more runs over four-plus innings against New York.
And just as in his previous postseason start, his command was off. He walked four Yankees and fell behind too many hitters, throwing first-pitch strikes to just 12 of the 21 batters he faced while getting into full counts seven times.
"It seemed like I wasn't getting my pitches over early in the count and had to fight my way back," Kazmir said. "There's only so many 3-2 sliders that you can throw to strike somebody out. Sooner or later, they're going to make you pay."
For Kazmir, he didn't pay for his mistakes until the fourth inning, as he managed to match zeros with Yankees ace CC Sabathia for the first three frames.
But even before the Yankees struck with three runs in the fourth, the writing was on the wall, as Kazmir struggled in both the second and third innings before escaping jams.
In the second, he allowed runners to reach first and second with no outs, and in the third he allowed a runner to reach second but struck out Mark Teixeira on 3-2 slider to end the inning.
"The first inning went well, but after that it seemed like nothing was really going our way," Kazmir said. "It was ball one, ball two. You don't get a strike here or there, and you're trying to work your way back to the count. That's not how you face these guys."
KAZMIR'S PLAYOFF PORTFOLIO
sporting a 1-2 record with a 5.30 ERA, with his team going 3-4.
|2008||ALDS G2||Rays||White Sox||5.1||8||2||2||2||4||W, 6-2|
|2008||ALCS G2||Rays||Red Sox||4.1||6||5||5||3||2||ND, 9-8|
|2008||ALCS G5||Rays||Red Sox||6||2||0||0||3||7||ND, 7-8|
|2008||WS G1||Rays||Phillies||6||6||3||3||4||4||L, 2-3|
|2008||WS G5||Rays||Phillies||4||4||2||2||6||5||ND, 3-4|
|2009||ALDS G3||Angels||Red Sox||6||5||5||5||3||1||ND, 7-6|
|2009||ALCS G4||Angels||Yankees||4||6||4||4||4||3||L, 1-10|
Things fully unraveled in the fourth, when Alex Rodriguez opened the inning with a single and Jorge Posada followed with a double to put runners at second and third.
This time, Kazmir couldn't wiggle his way out. Robinson Cano hit a ground ball to second, but Howard Kendrick unsuccessfully tried to throw out a hard-sliding Rodriguez at home. Things snowballed from there, as Nick Swisher walked and Melky Cabrera hit a two-run single to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
Kazmir then benefited from an inning-ending double play, when it was ruled Swisher left third base too early while trying to tag up on a fly ball hit by Johnny Damon, though replays indicated Swisher left after Torii Hunter made the catch.
But even with the questionable call going the Angels' way, Kazmir threw 31 pitches in the extended frame.
"His command wasn't really what it needed to be, [and] I think that eventually is what caught up with him," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He threw a lot of pitches to get to where he was in the game. He was pitching behind a lot."
Kazmir, though, came out for the fifth inning to face Teixeira. He yielded a single after falling behind in the count and Scioscia decided it was time to go to the bullpen, with Rodriguez at the plate and Kazmir having already thrown 89 pitches.
The move, however, didn't work, as reliever Jason Bulger allowed a two-run homer to Rodriguez that -- with the way Sabathia was pitching -- essentially put the game away. Teixeira scoring on the long ball charged Kazmir with his fourth run in just four-plus innings.
"It was very disappointing," Kazmir said. "Not how I wanted to make this start today -- not at all. I wanted to go as deep as I could. I wanted to match Sabathia every inning pitch by pitch, and I didn't."
Even with his best stuff, however, it would've been tough for Kazmir to match Sabathia, who limited the Halos to just one run over eight innings despite starting on three days' rest.
"We don't produce for him," said Bobby Abreu, who went 0-for-3. "We didn't score any runs. We needed to score more runs."
Kazmir doesn't believe the tough loss will linger.
"We're never going to give up," Kazmir said. "We have too good of a team. Our spirits are still up. We're going to come out and try to win on Thursday. "
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.