The left-hander used to put just the toe of his left foot on the right side of the rubber when beginning his delivery. After a week of throwing on the side under the tutelage of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, Kazmir moved his heel to the edge of the rubber.
“It made it easier to pitch outside,” Kazmir said after earning his first win of the season in a 6-2 victory Thursday over the Detroit Tigers. “It was difficult at first, but as I went on, I got into a rhythm.”
Kazmir (1-4) allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked four and struck out two.
He departed after he was hit on the right leg by Dmitri Young’s line drive. Seth McClung and Lance Carter held the lead for Danys Baez, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and got five outs for his fourth save in seven chances.
“(Kazmir) threw well and we gave him some run support,” Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. “But you want all of your young pitchers to win, because it settles them down. You talk about pitching well, but the biggest confidence booster is winning a baseball game.”
“I felt fine,” he said. “I just didn’t have the same stuff I normally do. I would say my stuff was below average today. I just tried to make it through each inning and battle.”
Detroit manager Alan Trammell said before the game that he decided on Tuesday to give Bonderman another day off after the pitcher told him his arm “was a little dead.” Bonderman is expected to start against Arizona on Friday.
The Tigers (19-20) failed again to get over the .500 mark, which disappointed Trammell.
“We had a shot to sweep and get over .500 and we didn’t look like there was any urgency, so that’s disappointing,” he said.
Kazmir, who entered with a 7.20 ERA on the road, retired the first eight Detroit batters and did not allow a hit until Young’s fourth-inning double.
“He had a couple hitters where he lost it, but it was good to see him regroup,” Green said.
“I was nitpicking a little bit, trying to make too good of a pitch, and I got in a bad situation,” Maroth said.
The Tigers broke up the shutout bid in the bottom half. Logan singled, went to second on a walk by Inge and third when Ivan Rodriguez hit into a fielder’s choice.
Logan scored on a single by Rondell White which sent Rodriguez to third, and he scored on Young’s liner off Kazmir’s leg, which Tampa Bay third baseman Jorge Cantu picked up and threw to first, retiring Young.
Piniella immediately removed Kazmir from the game.
“I looked up and saw Lou, and I knew that was it,” Kazmir said. “(The leg) was pretty sore.”
Kazmir walked off the field without assistance. Piniella said the pitcher had a bruise and was not expected to miss a turn in the rotation.
Detroit’s Carlos Pena, who was not in the lineup, was ejected by plate umpire Gary Cederstrom in the fourth inning. … Tampa Bay improved to 16-13 in Detroit, the only city where the Devil Rays have a winning record. … Inge’s 10-game hitting streak ended.