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Saturday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Jon Lester vs. Scott Kazmir

05.25.13 at 9:56 am ET
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Jon Lester will take the hill for the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, looking for his seventh win of 2013. Left-hander Scott Kazmir will get the call for the Indians.

Lester received his first loss his last time out, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and three walks while striking out two against the White Sox in the first game of the three-game series. It was first time Lester failed to strike out five or more batters in a contest this season. All six of the runs the White Sox scored came with two outs in the inning. Adam Dunn put Chicago on the board quickly with one swing of the bat, knocking a three-run home run in the bottom of the first.

“Subtract the first, that’€™s the one that it comes back to. That’€™s the most frustrating. I didn’€™t execute the pitches in the first inning, and that changed the whole momentum of the game,’€ Lester said after the outing.

Lester has fared well against the Indians over the course of his career, going 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 12 starts. The lefty picked up a win earlier this season in Cleveland, going seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits and throwing a season-high 115 pitches.

Lester will be matched up against Kazmir, who is making his first start in Boston since August 2010. The career trajectory of Kazmir has been quite interesting. He made his major league debut at the age of 20 for Tampa Bay. The lefty stifled the Red Sox offense for years in a Tampa Bay uniform; from 2004 to 2007, Kazmir started 17 games against the Red Sox, throwing 101 1/3 innings with a 2.66 ERA and 121 strikeouts (equal to fanning about 13.4 batters per nine innings). He was considered one of the best pitchers in the game after his 2007 season, in which he went 13-9 (on a Devil Rays club that won only 64 games) with a 3.48 ERA, leading the league in strikeouts with 239.

Things started to go south in 2009 for Kazmir. He started the year going 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA for the Rays. He was traded to the Angels in September, and while he finished on a strong note in Los Angeles that season, Kazmir struggled in his first full year with the club in 2010. He made only one start in 2011, going an inning and two-thirds, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks. The starter was placed on the DL with lower-back stiffness before being released by the Angels in June of that year.

After being released, Kazmir pitched in winter ball for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican League. In 2012, he played for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, making 14 starts. He also spent time in the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League. In December of 2012, the Indians signed him to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. After a good spring training and a brief DL stint to begin the year, Kazmir earned a spot in the Indians rotation.

In six starts, Kazmir owns a 2-2 record and 6.35 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings. He earned his first major league win since 2010 on May 4, going six innings and allowing two runs on five hits. Kazmir has shown flashes of effectiveness but hasn’t been able to go deep into games, going six innings only twice this year. He lasted only three innings in his last start, his shortest outing of the year, giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks to the Mariners.

Due to injuries and arm fatigue, Kazmir saw the effectiveness of his pitches decrease in his tenure with the Angels. But the 29-year-old has gained some velocity back on his fastball, throwing it in the 92-93 mph range, occasionally topping out at 95-96. Kazmir also throws a sinker in the low-90s, a changeup in the low 80s and a slider.

Indians vs. Lester (LHP)

Nick Swisher (60 plate appearances): .306 BA/.407 OBP/.551 SLG, 2 HR, 6 doubles, 8 RBI, 8 walks, 12 strikeouts

Asdrubal Cabrera (21): .235/.263/.294, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts

Mark Reynolds (19): .333/.474/.667, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

Ryan Raburn (9): .222/.222/.222, 3 strikeouts

Carlos Santana (9): .286/.333/.286, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Mike Aviles (8): .143/.250/.286, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Michael Brantley (8): .125/.125/.125, 6 strikeouts

Michael Bourn (7): .286/.286/.286, 2 strikeouts

Jason Giambi (6): .333/.333/.500, 2 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Yan Gomes (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Cord Phelps (2): .000/.000/.000

Drew Stubbs (2): .000/.000/.000

Jason Kipnis has not faced Lester.

Red Sox vs. Kazmir (LHP)

David Ortiz (53): .217/.321/.370, 2 HR, 1 double, 8 RBI, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (42): .515/.610/.788, 1 HR, 1 triple, 4 doubles, 3 RBI, 8 walks, 1 strikeout

Jacoby Ellsbury (20):.300/.300/.350, 1 double, 2 strikeouts

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (8): .000/.125/.000, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Mike Carp, Pedro Ciriaco, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Jose Iglesias and Daniel Nava have not faced Kazmir.

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