Brandon League stepped in for the injured David Aardsma and converted each of his first nine save chances as the Mariners’ closer, but all of a sudden he can’t get anyone out.
League took his first loss of the season Sunday by allowing three runs, blew a save and took a loss in the 13th inning Tuesday, and then blew another save and took a third straight loss in the 12th inning last night.
Through his first 14 appearances of the season League had a 2.08 ERA and 10/2 K/BB ratio in 13 innings while converting 9-of-9 save opportunities. In his last three appearance he’s 0-3 with two blown saves and a 27.00 ERA, coughing up seven runs while recording seven outs.
Any thoughts of replacing League as closer are complicated by the fact that Aardsma’s recovery from hip surgery has now given way to what could be a significant elbow injury, meaning he won’t be back any time soon. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times also suggests that warming up multiple times in extra-inning games and being asked to pitch more than one inning may have contributed to League’s struggles. And the defense didn’t do him any favors either.
So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.
The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.
Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.
Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.
With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.