Zack Greinke did his job, shutting out his old team, the Royals, for eight innings on Saturday. Ernesto Frieri didn’t do his. After coming in with one on and one out in the ninth, he gave up back-to-back homers to Billy Butler and Salvador Perez, giving Kansas City a 3-2 win over the Angels.
Mike Scioscia will surely have to face some tough questions after this one. Greinke was at a modest 103 pitches when he departed. He hadn’t given up an extra-base hit all night. And as great as Frieri has been this year, he had just thrown 30 pitches in picking up a save in Friday’s game. Not that six pitches was much of a sample, but he didn’t have his typical velocity tonight.
It’s a huge loss for the Angels, though there’s still the chance the Orioles will pick them up by knocking off Oakland tonight. At best, they’ll enter Sunday’s season finale five games back of the A’s in the loss column with 16 games left to go this season. And they’re going to have to pass some team in the A’s-Orioles-Yankees group to have a shot at the wild card.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.