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.
Blue Jays starter Matt Shoemaker has been diagnosed with a left knee sprain following his early departure from Saturday’s game. He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday, after which the club will be able to determine the extent of his injury and draw up a more definite timeline for his return to the mound.
The right-hander held the A’s scoreless through three innings of three-hit, one-strikeout ball on Saturday. In the bottom of the third, with two outs and Matt Chapman on first, Shoemaker helped complete an inning-ending putout after Chapman tried to steal second. He tagged Chapman between first and second base, but appeared to twist his leg in the process and immediately started limping away.
Shoemaker was helped off the field after the play and was swiftly replaced by righty Sam Gaviglio in the bottom of the fourth. This is the first serious injury the 32-year-old has sustained since he underwent forearm surgery and missed nearly all of his 2018 campaign with the Angels. While he’s not expected to be sidelined for quite as long this time around, it’s still a concerning setback for the Blue Jays’ no. 2 starter, who currently boasts a sterling 1.57 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, and 7.5 SO/9 through his first 28 2/3 innings of 2019.
The Blue Jays will undoubtedly feel the lack of Shoemaker’s presence over the next few days, but they managed deliver a blowout win on Saturday even without his help. Behind six innings of one-run ball from Gaviglio and Elvis Luciano, the offense mustered up 10 runs — the most they’ve collected in a single game all season — and kept the A’s hardest hits at bay with impressive catches from Billy McKinney and Freddy Galvis.