The Angels may have found their closer in Ernesto Frieri

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Ernesto Frieri was plenty good in a year and a half with the Padres, yet manager Bud Black never seemed to want to trust him in close games. Perhaps that was a mistake.

Frieri struck out the side in the 11th inning to earn his first career save as the Angels beat the A’s 3-1 on Thursday. In nine appearances for the Halos, he’s yet to allow a hit and he’s struck out 19 in 8 2/3 scoreless innings.

Command has always been Frieri’s biggest problem. He did walk a batter today, giving him six walks in his time with the Angels. Overall, he’s walked 62 batters in 117 innings as a major leaguer. However, that comes with a 2.15 ERA and 156 strikeouts.

The Padres couldn’t get past the walks. Last year, Frieri made 59 appearances and picked up a win (1), a loss (2), a hold (4) or a blown save (0) in just seven of them. Mostly, he pitched in games that were already decided. He pitched 14 2/3 scoreless innings in his final 14 appearances of the season, but 10 of those games were losses and the four wins were by 10, six, four and seven runs.

The Angels thus far have found no fault with Frieri. All but one of his nine appearances have come in a win and the one loss he appeared in was a 3-2 game. He’s been flat-out dominant in all of them. For the modest price of Alexi Amarista and Donn Roach, the Angels appear to have found the right-handed reliever they needed, and with Jordan Walden also having turned it around, the bullpen has suddenly become a strength, rather than a weakness. Score one for new GM Jerry DiPoto, who saw plenty of Frieri while with the Diamondbacks.

Brewers move into tie with Nationals for first NL Wild Card

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The Brewers, once left for dead after outfielder Christian Yelich suffered a season-ending injury, defeated the Pirates 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. That, paired with the Nationals’ 5-3 loss to the Marlins, moved them into a tie for the first NL Wild Card. The Brewers are 10-2 since Yelich’s injury.

During Sunday’s game, the Brewers brought a combined perfect game bid into the seventh inning. It ended when Gio González allowed a one-out single to Bryan Reynolds. The Brewers’ four runs came on two Eric Thames homers and an Orlando Arcia homer. The Pirates mounted a rally in the eighth inning, scoring three runs, but Josh Hader came in and slammed the door, getting the final four outs.

The Brewers end the season on a six-game road trip. They will face the Reds for three games before finishing out the schedule with three against the Rockies. The Cubs trail both the Brewers and Nationals by four games. The Mets are 4.5 games back while the Diamondbacks and Phillies are each 5.5 games behind.