Brandon Webb threw off flat ground on Saturday morning, his first throwing session since saying he felt “stagnant” last week. Manager A.J. Hinch told John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse that he was encouraged by the right-hander’s progress:
“He showed more life in his arm today,” Hinch said. “Throwing a few
breaking balls may not sound like big news, but it is to us. That means
he’s able to throw without reservation, and that’s big.”
Assuming his surgically-repaired shoulder feels up to snuff, the Diamondbacks hope he can throw a bullpen session within the next week or so before facing live hitters for the first time. Still, Hinch recognizes that time is working against Webb:
“Edwin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Dan Haren have all thrown twice (in spring
games) and are working on their third time,” Hinch said. “He hasn’t
thrown off a mound yet while other rotation candidates are stretching
themselves out in games. The fact that we are running out of time for
him (to start games in the first week of the season) is fairly obvious.”
If Webb opens the season on the disabled list, as expected, that would push Billy Buckner up to fourth in the rotation. And technically, because the Diamondbacks have two days off in the first eight days of the new season, they probably wouldn’t even need a fifth starter until the beginning of the third week of the season. Still, if Webb isn’t ready by then, Hinch will have to choose between an uninspiring group that includes Kevin Mulvey, Rodrigo Lopez, Cesar Valdez, Bryan Augenstein and as mentioned earlier, possibly Kris Benson.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.