Looking to add more bullpen help after the Jason Grilli-for-Ernesto Frieri swap worked out so horribly the Pirates have acquired right-hander John Axford from the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Axford signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal to be the Indians’ closer, but instead was quickly stripped of ninth-inning duties and has spent most of the season in a setup role without being particularly effective with a 3.91 ERA and 30 walks in 44 innings.
Axford still throws really hard and still misses plenty of bats with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings, but between his poor control and problems keeping the ball in the ballpark he’s posted a combined 4.25 ERA in 200 appearances since 2012.
In what proved to be his final Indians appearance Axford walked three batters and allowed four runs while recording two outs last week, which inflated his ERA from 3.14 to 3.91. He’ll work in a setup role in front of closer Mark Melancon.
UPDATE: It’s a straight-up waiver claim, so the Indians basically said “OK, take him” to the Pirates, who’re now responsible for the $1.1 million left on Axford’s deal.
Following his phenomenal performance on Friday, Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter found another page on which to ink his name in the history books. He hit a pair of home runs in the first and second games of the Cardinals-Cubs doubleheader on Saturday, becoming the first player to hit six homers in a single series at Wrigley Field and the 28th MLB player to ever hit a home run in six straight games.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the 32-year-old infielder extended his two-game home run streak with a solo blast off of the Cubs’ Anthony Bass during the series opener on Thursday. He followed that up with three home runs in Friday’s staggering five-run, seven-RBI performance, then teed off another solo homer against Tyler Chatwood in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. Even more remarkable: He didn’t start Game 2, but subbed in for Jose Martinez in the seventh and promptly hit one deep to center field in his first at-bat of the evening.
Entering Sunday’s game, Carpenter is riding a .277/.386/.593 batting line with an NL-best 30 doubles, 25 home runs and 163 OPS+. If he collects another home run during the club’s series finale, he’ll be the first with a seven-game home run streak since former outfielder Kevin Mench did it for the Rangers in 2006. Only three players — Mench (2006), Barry Bonds (2004) and Jim Thome (2002) — carried similar streaks, while the all-time record is currently held by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long, at eight consecutive games with a home run.