Astros’ Fernando Rodriguez takes eighth relief loss of season

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Fernando Rodriguez might make a name for himself after all, just not in a good way.

The Astros right-hander took his eighth relief loss after giving up two runs in the 10th inning Sunday against the Brewers. His ERA jumped to 6.61.

Rodriguez has 34 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings this season, but his poor pitching could get him demoted anyway. If so, he might avoid becoming just the eighth reliever since 2000 and first since 2008 to lose to 10 games:

Luis Ayala – 12 losses – 2004 Expos
Scot Shields – 11 losses – 2005 Angels
Luis Ayala – 10 losses – 2008 Nationals/Mets
Yhency Brazoban – 10 losses – 2005 Dodgers
Jose Jimenez – 10 losses – 2002 Rockies
Al Levine – 10 losses – 2001 Angels
Derek Lowe – 10 losses – 2001 Red Sox

Ayala (2.69) and Shields (2.75) both had great ERAs in the seasons in which they top the list, and Shields actually had 10 wins to go against his 11 losses. Ayala’s second 10-loss season was closer to what one might expect; he had a 5.71 ERA that year.

The major league record for relief losses in a season belongs to the Braves’ Gene Garber. He lost 16 games while throwing 106 innings in 1979. All of the 23 relievers to lose at least 12 games in a season did so while throwing at least 90 innings. In general, one has to be pretty good to get that much work in close games.

That doesn’t explain Rodriguez, though.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.