Scott Kazmir threw six sharp innings before leaving with tightness in his left triceps, and Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer that broke a scoreless tie in the eighth that lifted the A’s over the Seattle Mariners 3-0 Sunday.
Kazmir called it was “a very, very minor” injury. He said it won’t cause him to miss a start, but the A’s have reason to be cautionary.
This spring the club lost staff ace Jarrod Parker to season-ending elbow surgery and A.J. Griffin is sidelined for perhaps the first two months with a strained forearm.
Oakland’s staff has an AL-leading 2.17 ERA.
“It’s exciting to have guys follow up a quality start, one after another, one through five. It really is exciting,” Kazmir said. “We just want to keep going out there and keep making quality pitches and quality outings, all of us.”
Kazmir pitched two-hit ball, striking out nine without a walk.
A’s manager Melvin said that the first time he noticed Kazmir was affected by the tightness was at the end of the sixth. Kazmir had a similar issue during training camp, missing one start with triceps tightness.
“Everything checked out as far as his strengthening and what he does after a game,” Melvin said. “He wanted to go back out but you have to be careful with a guy like that.”
Mariners star Robinson Cano said Kazmir was exceptionally tough. “He was making guys chase his slider and throwing the heater at 95,” Cano said.
Cespedes pulled a 2-2 slider from Charlie Furbush (0-1) into the left-field bullpen. Cespedes’ second homer of the season came after Jed Lowrie drew a leadoff walk.
Josh Donaldson added a solo home run in the ninth, his third, off Lucas Luetge.
Dan Otero (2-0) retired two batters in the seventh. Luke Gregerson worked the eighth and Sean Doolittle allowed one hit in the ninth for his first save.
Chris Young made his first start since Sept. 9, 2012, while with the New York Mets. Troubled by shoulder problems all last season, he went to spring camp this year with the Nationals, was released and signed during the last week of training camp by Seattle.
Young pitched six shutout innings, giving up four hits. He walked three and struck out two.
Young’s other outing for Seattle was a two-inning scoreless stint in relief.
“I was really, really pleased with his outing,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He got a lot of flyball outs, teased them up in the zone a bit. I think he is close. I saw his breaking ball coming today. When that pitch comes for him, he’s going to be pretty tough.”
Kazmir didn’t allow a runner and struck out six the first time through the lineup. The Mariners got back-to-back, one-out singles by Brad Miller and Cano in the fourth, but Kazmir retired Corey Hart on a grounder and struck out Justin Smoak with a 78 mph changeup.
The Mariners’ only other scoring threat came with two outs in the sixth when Brad Miller sent right fielder Eric Sogard to the wall to bring down his flyball.
Cano, who singled in the fourth, has a 14-game hitting streak against Oakland dating to Sept. 22, 2012.
NOTES: Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon isn’t sure about Major League Baseball’s expanded replay format. “I’m really worried about where we’re heading with replays, the effect it’s having on the game, the effect it’s having on the fans,” McClendon said. “It’s confusing.” McClendon is concerned about the outfield transfer rule, when umpires look to be sure fielders successfully switch the ball from the glove to their hands. The Mariners already have had three such plays this season, with mixed results. “It was made for the play at second, on the double-play ball,” Melvin said. “I don’t think anyone thought it would come into play in the outfield as you’re seeing right now.” Both managers have had to talk to their players to be certain that runners go against their instincts and watch the umpires, not the play, in order to advance or hold. “I think the players are struggling more than the managers,” McClendon said. “Initially, I thought I’d be a fan of it. But I’m not so sure now.” ... Mariners top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker (shoulder) is scheduled to make another rehab start Tuesday in the minors. Seattle has an open spot in the rotation for that day, but McClendon said he doesn’t know when Walker will be called up.