It looks like the Diamondbacks and Aaron Heilman might have erred in trying the veteran setup man as a starter this spring. The 32-year-old right-hander was placed on the DL for the first time in his career Friday due to a case of shoulder tendinitis.
Replacing him on the roster will be 25-year-old righty Josh Collmenter.
Heilman, who lost out to Armando Galarraga for the last spot in Arizona’s rotation, had allowed nine runs in 6 2/3 innings out of the pen this season. Six of those runs came Wednesday in Arizona’s 15-5 loss to the Cardinals, when he was struggling to touch 90 with his usual 91-94 mph fastball.
Heilman is one of just four relievers to make at least 60 appearances and pitch at least 60 innings each of the last five years, joining Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Cordero and Mariano Rivera. And that’s actually setting the bar low for him: he was over 70 appearances and 70 innings in each of the five seasons, something none of those closers did. Only two other pitchers (Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch) matched those marks over four of the last five seasons.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.