Pitching for the third straight day, Jonathan Papelbon turned in a perfect ninth Tuesday against the Twins in Boston’s 4-3 victory, giving him 26 saves in 27 chances.
Papelbon’s ERA remains somewhat inflated at 3.14, but he’s worked scoreless innings in 12 straight appearances. During that span, he’s allowed just two hits and posted a 12/0 K/BB ratio.
Papelbon hasn’t walked a batter since July 10, and he has a 64/8 K/BB ratio for the year. If he can keep that up, he’d again join the select list of pitchers to save 30 games and strike out at least eight batters for each one he walked. Here’s they are:
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1989): 33 Sv, 55/3 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1990): 48 Sv, 73/4 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1991): 43 Sv, 87/9 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1992): 51 Sv, 93/11 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (Cards, 1996): 30 Sv, 49/6 K/BB
Doug Jones (Brewers, 1997): 36 Sv, 82/9 K/BB
John Smoltz (Braves, 2003): 45 Sv, 73/8 K/BB
Mariano Rivera (Yankees, 2008): 39 Sv, 77/6 K/BB
Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox, 2008): 41 Sv, 77/8 K/BB
Papelbon certainly seems to be in the process of reestablishing himself at the head of the class of this winter’s free agent relievers. Jonathan Broxton seemed like the cream of the crop a year and a half ago and Heath Bell reigned supreme at the beginning of this year, but Papelbon is throwing the best now from the group that also includes Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Madson and Jose Valverde.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.