Twins 16, Devil Rays 7
Kazmir recorded just one out before he was replaced by reliever Ruddy Lugo in the first inning. The 22-year-old left-hander walked five and allowed four runs on one hit.
“Well, the slider was working,” said Kazmir, who threw 38 pitches. “I felt like I was letting it go. I was loose out there.
“They were close pitches. I didn’t feel like I was completely all over the place. I felt like I was letting it go pretty well. It was just minor things. I felt like I was barely missing by just a hair.”
Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, Tony Batista and Michael Cuddyer all walked in runs during the first inning and hit home runs later in the game. Jason Hart also hit a three-run homer in the seventh to give the Twins a 16-4 lead.
“We knocked the fire out of the ball,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “The guys swung the bats pretty good, and that’s fun to see.”
Kazmir’s 174 strikeouts last season were the most by an American League rookie since Bobby Witt struck out 174 in 1986. He went 10-9 record with a 3.77 ERA, and projects to be just one of few solid pitching options for the Devil Rays this season.
Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon and Kazmir both shrugged off Saturday’s performance as an aberration. Kazmir entered Saturday with a 1-1 record and a 5.63 ERA with five strikeouts and five walks in three previous starts.
“I just love him,” Maddon said. “He’s a fine, young pitcher. I believe he’s going to be fine. If he was not healthy, then I would be worried. Honestly, I’m not worried at all.”
Cuddyer’s solo home run in the fourth gave the Twins the lead for good at 5-4.
The Twins reassigned pitchers Ricky Barrett and Kevin Cameron to minor league camp. The Twins now have 43 players in camp. … Several Twins players who competed in the World Baseball Classic are back with the team. Closer Joe Nathan (USA), shortstop Juan Castro and pitcher Dennys Reyes (Mexico) and pitchers Johan Santana and Carlos Silva (Venezuela) all have returned to camp. … Castro returned from the event with an injured wrist, which will be evaluated on Monday. “He’s getting an MRI,” Gardenhire said. “If that comes out OK, he can start hitting again next week.”