For the third time this season Heath Bell blew a save and then took a loss, unraveling against the Mets in an extremely ugly outing.
Bell began the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead and walked four the first five batters he faced, with one ground out mixed in. His fourth walk forced in the tying run and then, with the bases still loaded and two outs, he served up a walk-off single to Kirk Nieuwenhuis on his 46th pitch.
Bell is 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA and more walks (7) than strikeouts (5) in 5.2 innings, blowing three of his five save chances.
And the “proven closer” isn’t even one month into his three-year, $27 million contract that pays him through age 36.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.