GM on Ryan Howard: “If he’s back by sometime in May, I’ll be happy”

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A few weeks ago Ruben Amaro Jr. declined to “speculate” about Ryan Howard’s odds of being in the Opening Day lineup, but yesterday the Phillies general manager made it very clear that no one is expecting a return that soon.

Amaro told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that Howard returning from his torn Achilles’ tendon by Opening Day “is more than a reach” and instead noted that “if he’s back sometime in May, I’ll be happy.”

Ty Wigginton is the obvious in-house replacement for Howard at first base, although manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday that John Mayberry Jr. could also see action there depending on how the Phillies’ outfield looks. And of course Jim Thome is another option, assuming the 41-year-old can handle playing first base on more than an emergency basis.

Kenley Jansen’s consecutive saves streak ends at 34

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Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning during Sunday’s game against the Braves, blowing his first save since August 26 last season. He had converted 34 consecutive saves.

Jansen yielded back-to-back singles to lead off the ninth inning, staked to a 4-1 lead. After getting two outs, Matt Adams hit a three-run home run down the right field line to knot the game at four apiece.

After Sunday’s lackluster performance, Jansen is now 24-for-25 in save chances this season with a 1.49 ERA and a 62/2 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings.

Zach Britton sets American League record with 55th consecutive save

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Orioles closer Zach Britton finished Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Astros with a scoreless ninth inning, earning his sixth save of the season. He has now earned the save in 55 consecutive opportunities dating back to September 2015, setting a new American League record. Tom Gordon previously held the record with 54 consecutive saves. Eric Gagne holds the major league record at 84.

Britton’s last blown save came on September 20, 2015, then converted two more saves before the end of the regular season. He went 47-for-47 in save chances last season and is six-for-six so far this year.

Along with his six saves, Britton has a 2.65 ERA and a 13/8 K/BB ratio in 17 innings this season. The lefty came off the disabled list earlier this month after missing two months with a strained left forearm.