Last night Neftali Feliz blew his fifth save of the season and was yanked in the middle of the ninth inning after giving up three hits and a walk while recording just one out against the Twins.
Even after the poor appearance his ERA stands at a still-impressive 3.35, but he’s already blown more saves than he did all of last season in 18 fewer chances and the rest of Feliz’s numbers have fallen apart as well.
Last year Feliz had 9.2 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings while opponents hit .176 off him. This year Feliz has 6.2 strikeouts and 4.8 walks per nine innings while opponents hit .217 off him.
So his strikeouts are down 33 percent, his walks are up 110 percent, and his opponents’ batting average has risen 40 points. His average fastball velocity is down, but only 0.5 miles per hour, and he’s throwing his fastball the same 82 percent of the time as last year. However, his fastball has been far less effective and his curveball has gone from a major asset to a weakness.
Ron Washington is sticking with Feliz, because as the manager put it last night: “I’ll give him the ball again. There’s not much else I can do.”
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.