Billy Wagner told manager Bobby Cox that he intends to retire at the end of the season, reports Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Braves inked the 38-year-old southpaw to a one-year, $7 million contract over the winter. The deal includes a vesting option for 2011, something Wagner says the Braves simply “threw in.”
“I wanted a chance at 400, and that’s great,” Wagner said. “If it
happens this year, great, if not, then so be it. Just try to make this
one of those years to really enjoy and have a good time and maybe win a
championship along the way. Plus Bobby, he’s always meant a lot to me,
growing up. To play my final year and him being his final year – it was
the right timing.”
Wagner starts Friday’s action with 386 career saves — currently sixth all-time. Barring injury, he should be a lock for 400 saves, although it should be mentioned that he has only had two save chances in April, of which he is 1-for-2.
When looking at Wagner’s place in history, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better left-handed relief pitcher. Wagner boasts a 2.39 ERA and 1.01 WHIP during his 16-year career, averaging an eye-popping 11.8 K/9. I guess you could throw John Franco, Sparky Lyle, Jesse Orosco and former Tigers’ left-hander John Hiller in the discussion, but Wagner sits at the top of my ballot.
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.