Scott Kazmir's time with the Oakland Athletics was rumored to be nearing an end. A few hours before his latest scheduled start, it officially concluded.
After shipping Kazmir to Houston for a pair of prospects Thursday morning, the A's will turn to Arnold Leon for an emergency start as they wrap up this series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
After winning a career-high 15 games in his first season in the Bay Area in 2014, Kazmir (5-5) is among the AL leaders with a 2.38 ERA this year. But with the left-hander scheduled to become a free agent this winter and with the A's (44-52) having plenty of teams to pass in the playoff chase, Oakland sent him to the Astros on Thursday for right-hander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham.
Barry Zito could have been a candidate to get the call in Kazmir's place, but the one-time Cy Young Award winner pitched Wednesday for Triple-A Nashville. So instead the A's will turn to Leon (0-0, 4.26 ERA), who last pitched in the majors June 17.
This will be the right-hander's first major league start, and he probably won't pitch very deep into it. He hasn't started for the Sounds since May 15, and he threw 2 2-3 innings Tuesday in his latest relief appearance.
Leon could have a rude starting debut against the highest-scoring team in baseball. Toronto (48-48) is averaging 5.29 runs - its best since a franchise-record 5.52 in 2003 - and ranks second with 124 homers.
The Blue Jays, three games behind the Twins for a wild-card spot, were one of Kazmir's rumored destinations and figure to still be in the market for a starter to bolster a rotation that's 24th in the majors with a 4.31 ERA.
While Toronto generally hasn't had trouble scoring runs, it hasn't given R.A. Dickey (3-10, 4.70) much help with a 3.88 run-support average that's the lowest in the rotation. The right-hander has been backed by two runs or fewer in 11 of 19 starts, including each of the past five while he's gone 0-4 with a 3.98 ERA.
"It's been a peculiar year in that regard," said Dickey, who allowed one run in six innings while not getting the decision in a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday.
He hasn't lost five straight decisions since an eight-start stretch in 2011 with the New York Mets.
Dickey is 0-3 with a 2.92 ERA in seven games - five starts - at Oakland. His scheduled start was pushed up a day after Drew Hutchison fell ill.
The A's have won five of six over the Blue Jays after Ike Davis' pinch-hit, walkoff single was upheld by video review following a close play at first in Wednesday's 4-3, 10-inning victory.
"It's awkward. That's a tough position to be in. The whole time we were thinking, 'If they turn this over we're going to look like a bunch of idiots out here (celebrating),'" said Josh Reddick, who scored the winning run. "... It felt like the longest replay we've had all year."
Vogt is batting .371 in his last 10 games against Toronto after getting two hits and an RBI on Wednesday.
Josh Donaldson has doubled on two of his four hits while adding two RBIs in his first two games back in Oakland after the A's traded him in the offseason.