The Phillies dominated on Friday night, pulling off a rare 7-2 win against the Pirates and recording their fourth victory in 16 games. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was the key to their win, both on the mound and at the plate, but left in the seventh inning after a bad swing at the plate caused him to tweak his back.
Hellickson won’t be out for long — according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, he’s experiencing lower back tightness and should be cleared for his next start — but his absence put even more strain on a bullpen that already looks maxed-out. No Phillies’ starter has pitched into the seventh inning since May 6, and not one has lasted eight innings or longer since Hellickson hurled a complete game shutout last September.
The Phillies aren’t in a position to make a play for the division title anytime soon, but Friday’s made for a nice change of pace. Hellickson was going strong before his exit, turning in six solid innings with two hits, two runs and two strikeouts for his fifth win of the year. He went 1-for-2 at the plate, taking a walk in the third inning and returning in the seventh for an RBI double — his first extra-base hit since Opening Day.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning during Sunday’s game against the Braves, blowing his first save since August 26 last season. He had converted 34 consecutive saves.
Jansen yielded back-to-back singles to lead off the ninth inning, staked to a 4-1 lead. After getting two outs, Matt Adams hit a three-run home run down the right field line to knot the game at four apiece.
After Sunday’s lackluster performance, Jansen is now 24-for-25 in save chances this season with a 1.49 ERA and a 62/2 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings.
Orioles closer Zach Britton finished Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Astros with a scoreless ninth inning, earning his sixth save of the season. He has now earned the save in 55 consecutive opportunities dating back to September 2015, setting a new American League record. Tom Gordon previously held the record with 54 consecutive saves. Eric Gagne holds the major league record at 84.
Britton’s last blown save came on September 20, 2015, then converted two more saves before the end of the regular season. He went 47-for-47 in save chances last season and is six-for-six so far this year.
Along with his six saves, Britton has a 2.65 ERA and a 13/8 K/BB ratio in 17 innings this season. The lefty came off the disabled list earlier this month after missing two months with a strained left forearm.