Heath Bell allows homer in fifth consecutive appearance

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Diamondbacks closer Heath Bell surrendered a two-run home run to Jay Bruce in the top of the ninth inning that turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Bell has allowed a homerun:

  • June 10 @ Dodgers: Juan Uribe walk-off solo home run
  • June 12 @ Dodgers: Ramon Hernandez solo home run (note: Hernandez was designated for assignment today)
  • June 17 vs. Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton go-ahead solo home run
  • June 19 vs. Marlins: Justin Ruggiano go-ahead three-run home run
  • June 22 vs. Reds: Jay Bruce go-ahead two-run home run

Bell’s ERA is now 5.02, a year after posting a 5.09 ERA in 63.2 innings. In fairness, aside from the home runs, his defense-independent stats (strikeouts and walks) are back at the same level when he was a dominant closer with the Padres. However, his fastball velocity is on a three-year decline and he no longer benefits from a pitcher-friendly home ballpark.

You have to wonder how much longer the Diamondbacks, nursing a 2.5-game lead in the NL West, will continue trotting Bell out in save situations.

The Diamondbacks bailed out Bell in the bottom of the ninth, however, as Jason Kubel helped walk off with a two-run, bases-loaded single to center against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

Video: Dexter Fowler robs Asdrúbal Cabrera of three-run homer

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler made a critical catch in the eighth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Nationals. With the Cardinals leading 5-1, the Nationals were threatening with runners on first and second with one out against lefty Andrew Miller. Asdrúbal Cabrera worked a full count before serving a 3-2 outside slider to right field. The ball had home run distance, but Fowler tracked it, leaped at the wall, and robbed Cabrera of a three-run home run.

Carlos Martínez relieved Miller, getting Victor Robles to ground out to end the inning. The Cardinals would go on to win 5-1.

The game had playoff implications on both sides. The win bumped the Cardinals’ hold on first place in the NL Central to 2.5 games while the Nationals’ lead over the Cubs and Brewers for the first NL Wild Card shrinks to just one game.

The Nationals will close out their final road trip of the regular season with three games against the Marlins before hosting the Phillies for five games and the Indians for three. The Cardinals, meanwhile, begin their final road trip of the regular season with four against the Cubs followed by three against the Diamondbacks before closing out the season at home with three games versus the Cubs.