Fernando Rodney simply making the All-Star team at age 35 and after five consecutive seasons with an ERA higher than 4.00 is amazing enough, but apparently he’ll also be asked to close out the game if the American League has a ninth-inning lead.
Rodney told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that AL manager Ron Washington has already said he’s in line for the save opportunity, getting the nod over fellow closers Joe Nathan, Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, and Chris Perez. That’s somewhat surprising considering Nathan is Washington’s closer for the Rangers and is having an incredible season himself with a 1.73 ERA, 18 saves, and a 45/4 K/BB ratio in 36 innings.
Of course, Rodney has a 0.93 ERA, 25 saves, and a 38/5 K/BB ratio in 39 innings, so it’s tough to go wrong either way. And maybe Washington just really wants to see Rodney do his post-save “shooting an arrow” celebration on a national stage.
Mariano Rivera closed out the American League’s last All-Star victory in 2009.
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.