Kyuji Fujikawa’s first stint as the Cubs’ closer didn’t last long due to a right forearm strain, but he could get another chance soon.
Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports that Fujikawa threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session today, his second since he was placed on the disabled list earlier this month. While Cubs manager Dale Sveum told Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald that he didn’t look particularly “crisp,” he’s scheduled to throw another bullpen session Thursday and should begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Iowa. He’ll likely need a few appearances before he’s cleared to rejoin the Cubs’ bullpen.
Fujikawa, who came over from Japan this winter on a two-year, $9.5 million contract, allowed six runs on eight hits and one walk over 4 1/3 innings prior to the injury. The Cubs have relied on a closer-by-committee during his absence, with the dynamic duo of Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol notching saves in the past week.
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.