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10/19/09 9:38 PM EST

Kazmir gets chance to prove worth

Angels' newest southpaw tabbed for Game 4 start

ANAHEIM -- The Angels pulled the trigger on a deal to acquire Scott Kazmir on Aug. 29 because they were looking for some depth in their rotation.

As they look to even the best-of-seven American League Championship Series after resurrecting themselves with a big win over the Yankees in Game 3, the Halos will be counting on that depth more than ever.

Kazmir said the trade excited him, because he knew he'd get to be a part of the postseason again, after his former team, the Rays, came up short in the World Series against the Phillies last year. But the left-handed Kazmir's first postseason start this fall left quite a bit to be desired, as he was roughed up for five runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Red Sox in the AL Division Series clincher.

Tale of the Tape: Game 4
2009 Regular Season
Overall: 19-8, 34 GS, 3.37 ERA, 67 BB, 197 K
Overall: 10-9, 27 GS, 4.89 ERA, 60 BB, 117 K
Key stat: 1.01 ERA in four career starts with three days' rest
Key stat: 1.73 ERA in six regular-season starts with Angels
Career: 4-3, 7 GS, 5.45 ERA, 23 BB, 39 K
Career: 1-1, 6 GS, 4.83 ERA, 21 BB, 23 K
2009: 0-1, 1 GS, 6.75 ERA, 3 BB, 6 K.
Career: 2-3, 7 GS, 4.63 ERA, 14 BB, 33 K
2009: 0-1, 3 GS, 2.84 ERA, 8 BB, 10 K
Career: 0-2, 4 GS, 3.16 ERA, 11 BB, 20 K
Against this opponent
2009: 0-2, 2 GS, 6.08 ERA, 4 BB, 11 K.
Career: 5-7, 14 GS, 4.72 ERA, 35 BB, 66 K.
2009: 2-1, 3 GS, 3.20 ERA, 4 BBs, 4 Ks.
Career: 6-5, 14 GS, 2.67 ERA, 39 BB, 86 K.
Loves to face.: Vlad Guerrero, 3-for-15, 3 Ks
Hates to face: Torii Hunter, 20-for-68, 3 HR, 17 RBI
Loves to face: Derek Jeter, 4-for-36, 11 Ks
Hates to face: Mark Teixeira 7-for-11, 3 RBI
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: He dominated the Angels in his last outing.
Why he'll win: He's had success against the Yankees throughout his career.
Pitcher beware: Pitching on three days' rest is a tough task.
Pitcher beware: He allowed five runs in six innings in the ALDS.
Bottom line: Can he toss another gem against the Angels?
Bottom line: Can he continue his prior success against the Yankees?

When he gets the starting nod again Tuesday for Game 4 of the ALCS -- set for a 4:57 p.m. PT first pitch at Angel Stadium and on FOX -- he'll look to show off what the Angels acquired in exchange for Minor League prospects Alex Torres, Matt Sweeney and Sean Rodriguez.

"I'm excited," Kazmir said. "Very excited. I'm up for the challenge. I don't put any extra pressure on myself. I just go out there and pitch my game. With this team, the Yankees, they're a very high-powered offense, so you just have to attack the strike zone. I'm not going to try to do anything extra, just pitch my game."

Kazmir has had some strong games against the Yankees. He is 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA in his career against them, and he's proven to be a matchup problem for several members of the Bombers' lineup. Derek Jeter is 4-for-36 off Kazmir, Johnny Damon is 6-for-36, Hideki Matsui is 5-for-28, Nick Swisher is 5-for-27, Robinson Cano is 4-for-26 and Alex Rodriguez is 3-for-24.

Here is how the Yankees' starting lineup has fared in three games this season against Scott Kazmir, the Angels' starting pitcher in Game 4 of the ALCS. Kazmir made the first two of those three starts while with Tampa Bay.
Derek Jeter .100 (1-10) 2 BB, 3 K
Johnny Damon .000 (0-6) BB, K
Mark Teixeira .286 (2-7) BB, 2K
Alex Rodriguez .500 (2-4) K
Hideki Matsui .200 (2-10) BB, 2 RBIs
Jorge Posada .375 (3-8) K, 2 RBIs
Robinson Cano .182 (2-11) K, 2 RBIs
Nick Swisher .333 (2-6) BB, HR, RBI
Melky Cabrera .364 (4-11) 2 RBIs

The guys Kazmir has to be especially careful with are Jorge Posada, who is 11-for-25 with five RBIs off him, and Melky Cabrera, who is 8-for-20.

"I have faced [the Yanks] quite a bit," Kazmir said. "I think there's not going to be any disadvantages or advantages to anyone. You know, they've seen me. I've seen them. It's kind of a game of adjustments. So I think that we're both sitting in the same boat. I just have to execute pitches."

The Angels executed the trade to land the 25-year-old Kazmir just before the August deadline to acquire players eligible for the postseason roster. In a rotation battered by injuries, ineffectiveness and the heartbreaking loss of Nick Adenhart, Kazmir was a welcomed addition down the stretch. He went 2-2 with a sparkling 1.73 ERA in six starts for Anaheim.

"Kaz has fit in very well," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Not only with the guys in the clubhouse, but the how important he's been to our rotation. Another effect [as a result of Kazmir's ability to eat innings] has been our bullpen has aligned itself with a much better role. So Scott's brought a lot."

Kazmir had been traded before -- as Mets fans know all too well -- but the timing of the trade to the Angels caught him off guard. The Rays were still considered a part of the AL Wild Card chase at that juncture, and Kazmir, though he had heard his name bandied about in plenty of rumors, expected to stay with Tampa Bay.

But Kazmir said he has had no trouble acclimating himself to a new organization, and the numbers bear that out.

"I knew most of the guys already, just from playing against them the past couple of years," Kazmir said. "I pretty much felt comfortable as soon as I came in. Everyone was cool. It was a great atmosphere in the clubhouse. But it seemed like I needed to have that first start, first game on the field to really feel like I'm contributing, and everything after that just felt good. I felt like I've been here all year."

The year is hinging on the Angels' performance here at home against the Yankees, and Game 4 will be in Kazmir's hands. He'll have his work cut out for him, going up against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, who dominated the Angels in Game 1 in the Bronx.

"I'm going to have to be very good facing Sabathia, because he's not going to give up much," Kazmir said. "You have to match him every inning. That's what I'm looking forward to doing."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.