For most of spring training reports from Indians camp suggested that Carlos Santana was struggling with his attempted transition from catcher to third base, but apparently manager Terry Francona disagreed with those assessments.
Francona just told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that Santana will be the Indians’ primary third base, which means last year’s primary third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall’s role is likely diminished and very much in flux. Or as Francona put it: “I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to play itself out.”
Santana has never played a game at third base in the majors and last played there as a minor leaguer way back in 2008 at Single-A, but the Indians decided they’d rather have Yan Gomes behind the plate and wanted to avoid moving Santana to designated hitter. Santana as a DH seemingly would have been an easy choice, especially considering they didn’t add another big bat for the DH spot after instead shifting him to third base, but Francona and company clearly believe he’s capable of being decent defensively.
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.