Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth was handed the ball in the ninth inning Saturday night with a 5-3 lead over the visiting Red Sox. He retired the first batter he faced, Marco Scutaro, on a weak groundout.
But almost nothing went right from there.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury hit back-to-back home runs to the right field seats at Tropicana Field, tying the game suddenly at 5-5.
Dustin Pedroia then doubled and Adrian Gonzalez drew a walk before Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to make a change at pitcher.
Evan Longoria eventually saved the day with a walkoff RBI single in extra innings, but the surging Rays may be without their battered closer for the next week or so.
It was Farnsworth’s second straight blown save opportunity, and he was diagnosed afterwards with tenderness in his throwing elbow. This according to Chris Girandola of MLB.com.
“It just never got loose,” Farnsowrth said. “I could never just finish my pitches. I tried to go out there and do the best I could, but I didn’t have my best stuff. It’s tough because I want to go out there and perform for my team, but I just have to take it day by day.”
The Rays have quietly fought their way back into the American League Wild Card mix and currently sit just 4 1/2 games back of the Red Sox. It’s not a great time for Farnsworth to suddenly fall to pieces.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.