Zach Britton’s American League record of converting 60 consecutive save chances was snapped Aug. 23, but there might have been a reason he gave up two runs to the Oakland Athletics in just one-third of an inning.
Britton has been dealing with soreness in his left knee since 2014, the first season he pitched out of the bullpen. The streak began on Oct. 1, 2015.
Britton said the soreness was more significant while he warmed up on the day his streak ended. An MRI the next day revealed no structural damage.
“The results were good, and it’s not something that should hinder me from pitching, like it hasn’t the last few years,” he said.
The streak was the second longest in major league history, behind only Eric Gagne’s 84. During the streak, Britton posted a 1.14 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 95 innings.
When the Orioles scored five runs in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 26, it was the fourth time this season they had scored five or more in a single inning against Boston, all at Fenway Park.
Kevin Gausman earned the win in that game to improve to 10-9, a career high in wins. In his last eight starts he has a 2.26 ERA and .229 opponents’ average.
Boston Red Sox
Rick Porcello has had a difficult time defending his Cy Young Award title this season, but in recent starts he appeared to be turning the corner.
He was 4-0 in his first four August starts, and in his last three outings of that span he had a 2.84 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Then came one of the worst outings of his career. He allowed a career-high 11 runs in 42⁄ innings 3 on Aug. 25, although just four of those runs were earned, and the loss left him with a majors-leading 15 losses and a 4.57 ERA.
“I threw it, they hit it,” Porcello said. “It’s just a matter of executing pitches, and I didn’t do it at all.”
In that game the Red Sox allowed a season-high 16 runs after setting their previous season worst the day before — 13 runs allowed to Cleveland. It was Boston’s first pair of consecutive games allowing 13 or more runs since 2006 and just its 11th such pair in the last 100 years.
The Red Sox committed a season-high five errors Aug. 25, their first five-error game since 2001.
New York Yankees
Sonny Gray’s Aug. 26 outing was his best since joining the Yankees at the trade deadline. It also was the first time he pitched on the anniversary of his father’s death in 2004.
“I was definitely pitching with a heavy heart out there,” Gray told
The New York Times. “A lot of people don’t know about it, but it’s a special day for me, and that made this win a little more special. … I’ve waited a long time to pitch on this date.”
Gray went seven innings, his longest outing since he pitched eight innings on June 30, and gave up one run with nine strikeouts, his most since July 25. He has a 2.70 ERA in his first five starts with the Yankees but is 2-3. In the three losses the Yankees offense scored a total of two runs.
“He’s handled that well,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He just goes out and does his job. When we score runs, he wins.”
First baseman Greg Bird was in the lineup Aug. 26 for the first time in almost four months. He had been sidelined by knee and ankle injuries.
“If he can swing like he was in spring training and like he did in 2015, he could be a big addition,” Girardi said.
Aaron Judge was benched Aug. 28, and Girardi said the plan was to avoid using him at all for a day or two. Judge, who hit .329 with a 1.139 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in the first half, was at .179 and .692 since the All-Star break. His home run ratio had dropped from one in every 10 at-bats to one in every 20.
Tampa Bay Rays
In five August starts, Blake Snell is 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA, and he matched his season high in his last two outings by going seven innings in each.
The Rays’ first-round pick (52nd overall) in 2011 has pitched at least six innings in all but one of his five starts this month after going more than six innings just twice this season before that.
“Blake was outstanding, really impressed again,” manager Kevin
Cash said. “I mean, I keep saying this, and hopefully we continue to keep saying this because we need him to step up big for us, and he did tonight.
“There were a lot of things in his start that went wrong, not by his doing, just by a couple of balls in the corner and then we lost a ball up, and it didn’t faze him one bit. That’s a big step in the right direction that he continues making.”
Overall, Snell is 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA after going 6-8 with a 3.54 ERA as a rookie in 2016.
With an error on Aug. 26, the Rays fell one game short of tying their team record of 10 consecutive errorless games. They have reached that mark three times, most recently in 2011.
After a long offensive dry spell earlier this month, the Rays scored six or more runs four times in a seven-game stretch last week. They had scored more runs this season than two playoff contenders, the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Angels, and they were fifth in the league in home runs.
Toronto Blue Jays
Josh Donaldson’s numbers this season are down because of injuries, but he showed his versatility Aug. 26 when he went 3for-5 with a bunt single, a double, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored.
“He’s got a complete game,” manager John Gibbons said. “Not everybody has that, but he does.”
The three-hit game matched a season high and snapped his 0-for-12 and 3-for-28 skids.
“I’ve been getting pounded in pretty much the last five or six games,” Donaldson said. “It was nice to make somewhat of an adjustment and get the barrel on the ball.”
The home run was Donaldson’s 11th in August and 23rd of the season. He averaged 39 the previous two years.
J. A. Happ has allowed five runs in each of his last two starts and has lost both, dropping his record to 7-12 with a 4.10 ERA. It is the first time he has allowed five or more runs in back-to-back starts since 2012.
“I’m not going to feel good about that. That’s four games that I’m not going to be able to help the team, and I know that they’re going to need me. It’s not a good feeling.”
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, on his four-game suspension for his part in the brawls that marred New York’s game against Detroit on Aug. 24
Aug. 26 was the first time Sonny Gray had pitched on the anniversary of his father’s death. Gray went seven innings and gave up one run with nine strikeouts for the Yankees.