As costly as it was, Scott Rolen’s second error of the NLDS, which scored the go-ahead run as the Reds lost in 10 innings, isn’t reason alone to stick him on the bench against San Francisco’s Barry Zito in Wednesday’s Game 4 in Cincinnati. But it doesn’t need to be.
In Todd Frazier, the Reds have a third baseman who posted an OPS 200 points higher than Rolen did against lefties this season. Rolen came in at .234 with one homer in 77 at-bats against southpaws. Frazier hit .298 with six homers in 124 at-bats.
Meanwhile, Rolen’s poor September has carried over to the postseason, as he’s opened the series against San Francisco 2-for-11. Frazier struggled during the season’s final month, too, but he outhit Rolen over the rest of the year. As a third baseman, he’ll never be confused with prime Rolen. But then neither will the 37-year-old version of Rolen manning the hot corner right now.
The Reds don’t need to make a permanent Rolen-for-Frazier switch at third. It’s doubtful Dusty Baker would even entertain the thought. Still, plugging in Frazier against the lefty in the second of three possible games in three days makes plenty of sense. The Reds managed Rolen’s playing time carefully all year anyway, and the lineup could use Frazier’s extra pop.
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.