No matter how grim things might seem this morning for Trevor Hoffman or Manny Corpas, at least the troubled Padres and Rockies closers can rest comfortably knowing that unlike Scott Kazmir, they’re not subject to the voodoo curse of Al Leiter. From’s Bill Whitehead (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :

Kazmir gave up four earned runs and worked into the fifth inning on Wednesday in the Class A Advanced Vero Beach Devil Rays’ 4-3 loss to the Palm Beach Cardinals in a game that started in the morning and ended with Kazmir going back and forth from the mound to the bullpen due to a pitch-count misunderstanding.”It was frustrating,” Kazmir said following his 64-pitch effort, his second start following a left elbow strain in late February. “I wanted to work on a lot of things and stretch myself out. I felt strong. [pitching coach Jim] Hickey and I were both on the same page, but it didn’t happen.”

The game featured a rare 10:30 morning start and was played before mostly school children, teachers and chaperones, due to a promotion Palm Beach had with area middle schools.

And the game had a bizarre feel to it from the moment Kazmir toed the rubber.

His first pitch, an 88-mile-per-hour fastball, was belted down the right-field line for a home run by Palm Beach’s Tyler Henley, tying the game at 1.

After throwing just 20 pitches over the next two scoreless innings, the Texas native was told to head to the bullpen to finish his work, which led to more confusion.

“They wanted me finish up in the bullpen, and it didn’t really make too much sense,” said Kazmir. “[My start] was originally set for 70-75 pitches, and we certainly wanted me to go five [innings]. I got done after four innings and I had thrown 54.

“They said, ‘Finish up in the bullpen. If you had 50 pitches, we’d let you go back out there.’ So I’ve got to have a 20-pitch cushion to go out there for another inning? That’s a lot of confidence.”

With reliever Ryan Morse warming up in the bullpen, Kazmir stood nearby and waited while the staff communicated with Tampa Bay coaches. Eventually, he was allowed to go back to the mound for the bottom of the fifth inning, though he said he tried to do too much in a few pitches.

“They said if I threw seven pitches, they were taking me out. I was just throwing fastballs down the middle, saying, ‘Please, just get yourself out.’ The only thing that was going through my head that last inning was, ‘How can I get out of this inning in three pitches?’