Royals closer Greg Holland pitched a scoreless ninth in a 3-2 game against the White Sox on Thursday, giving him his team-record 46th save in 49 chances this season.
Holland overtook Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993) for the Royals record. He also fanned two batters to top 100 strikeouts for the season; he’s at 101 in 66 innings.
That makes Holland the 14th pitcher (11th different) to record 40 saves and 100 strikeouts in a season. Eric Gagne did it three times. The Braves’ Craig Kimbrel has a chance to do it for the third time this year, but he’s still four strikeouts short (he has 49 saves) with probably one or two appearances remaining. Also having pulled it off are Armando Benitez, Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Bryan Harvey, John Wetteland, Robb Nen, Trevor Hoffman and Ugueth Urbina.
Holland has accomplished all this after nearly losing the closer’s gig a week into the season. He gave up three earned runs in a loss and blown save on April 6 and then was pulled out of a save chance the next night, leading to speculation that Kelvin Herrera might replace him in the ninth. However, he quickly turned it around from there and never looked back,
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.