David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Braves outfielder Jason Heyward was removed in the first inning of Tuesday’s game against the Nationals with a strained muscle in his neck.
Heyward appeared to tweak something on a swing during his at-bat in the top of the first inning and was replaced in the outfield in the bottom of that frame by Evan Gattis. The Braves are calling Heyward day-to-day for now and will reexamine him on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old right fielder spent time on the disabled list in April and May after undergoing an appendectomy. He also missed some games just before the All-Star break with a hamstring strain.
Heyward is hitting .234/.339/.386 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI in 83 games this season for the Braves, who grew their lead in the National League East standings to 14 1/2 games with Tuesday’s win over Washington.
It was the 12th victory in a row for this 69-45 Atlanta team.
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.