Clay Buchholz scratched from final start due to back stiffness

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Clay Buchholz was scratched from his final start of the season today against the Yankees due to lower back stiffness, according to Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com.

Because of last night’s rainout, Tim Wakefield will oppose Andy Pettitte in the first game of a day-night doubleheader this afternoon.

Buchholz said he felt his lower back “grab” at him during his normal throwing session Friday, but also admitted that his back has been an issue over the past several starts.

“I would like to throw another [game]. [The back soreness]
has been there for the last five or six starts. It might have something
to do with the cold weather. [Monday in Chicago] was the first cold game
I’ve pitched in a while, and I had a couple of innings I was in the
dugout a little bit longer and then cranked it back up to 100 percent
once I got off the bench. It was one of those that’s in a sensitive
spot.”

Buchholz, 26, wraps up the year with 17-7 record to go along with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP over 28 starts. There was a little bit of intrigue going into his final scheduled start of the season, not only because he had a chance at 18 wins, but also because he could have won the ERA title over Felix Hernandez. For instance, he would have passed King Felix if he managed to pitch five shutout innings. 

Ah well, doesn’t matter now. Still a pretty fantastic season for Buchholz.  

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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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.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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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.