CLEVELAND -- Scott Kazmir was a member of the Rays when they occupied the American League East cellar, and he was there when Tampa Bay transformed into a yearly contender. The Indians pitcher sees similarities within Cleveland's clubhouse this season.
"Yeah, I think so," Kazmir said. "We kind of have that loose, free-and-easy attitude. That's something that you can't teach, the kind of chemistry that we have in the clubhouse. I knew we were on to something. Just the way everyone goes about their business, it's great to be at the ballpark, great to be in the clubhouse."
Kazmir was a leader for Tampa Bay's pitching staff in 2007, when the team lost 96 games in its second season with manager Joe Maddon at the helm. A year later, the Rays ran to 97 victories, enjoyed a couple of champagne celebrations in the postseason and ultimately fell short against the Phillies in the World Series.
Cleveland lost 94 games last season and brought in manager Terry Francona before this year in an effort to change the culture on and off the field. Entering Sunday's game with the Astros, the Indians had possession of the second American League Wild Card spot with one week left to secure a spot in the playoffs.
As it happens, it is the Rays who currently hold the top Wild Card seed.
Kazmir -- out of affiliated baseball last season -- signed a Minor League contract with the club prior to Spring Training as a way to hopefully revive his career more than anything. When the left-hander arrived to camp with the club, however, he soon saw a mix of players that he felt had the makings of a contending team.
"Definitely," Kazmir said. "I felt like we had something special right from the get-go, as soon as I got there. It was a matter of when we were going to put everything together. It seems like things started clicking early on, and look where we're at now."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.