Left field fill-in Kirk Nieuwenhuis has played so well that there’s been some speculation about Jason Bay returning from the disabled list as a part-time player, but Mets manager Terry Collins squashed that talk.
Collins told Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News that Bay will “absolutely” be a starter once he’s healthy because “he didn’t come here to be an extra player.”
Bay hasn’t played since April 23 and isn’t yet close to returning from a fractured rib, so it’s a moot point for now and by the time he’s ready to return Nieuwenhuis may have come back down to earth somewhat anyway. So far he’s hitting .294 with a .370 on-base percentage in 35 games.
In fairness to Bay he was fairly productive in 15 games before the injury, posting a .776 OPS that nearly matches Nieuwenhuis’ mark of .782. And of course he’s making $16 million this season with another $16 million due in 2013.
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.