Edwin Jackson’s no-hitter overshadowed another significant accomplishment on Friday night, as Billy Wagner notched his 400th career save, striking out the side in a 3-1 win over the Tigers.
Wagner is just the fifth player in baseball history to eclipse the 400-save plateau. The 38-year-old is now 24 saves behind John Franco for the most saves ever by a left-handed pitcher.
Here’s what Wagner told David O’Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
“When you go out there and pitch for 14 years, you start to put some
numbers together. This is just a credit to the hard work and all the
people behind me that always made the plays and made me look good.”
Wagner has announced his intention to retire after 2010, despite a $6.5 million vesting option for 2011 if he finishes 50 games this season. He has already finished 30 games and it’s not even July. After Friday’s game, Braves skipper Bobby Cox jokingly suggested that Wags should think about sticking around.
“He’s been dominating all season long, and maybe
we can talk him out of retirement.”
Wagner, who underwent Tommy John surgery in September of 2008, is currently averaging 95.8 mph on his fastball, his highest velocity since the 2006 season. The southpaw has a 1.19 ERA, 15 saves and a 46/12 K/BB ratio over his first 30 1/3 innings, just the latest addition to a resume that is completely underrated in the scope of baseball history. He’s just as dominant as ever.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”