ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ernesto Frieri was riding a string of five consecutive successful outings since being demoted as the Angels’ closer, following a blown save at Washington on April 23.
On Tuesday, he nearly made it six in a row. One mistake cost him and the Angels in their 4-3 loss to the Yankees at Angel Stadium.
With Joe Smith, who took over as closer once Frieri was demoted, unavailable the night belonged to Frieri if Mike Scioscia was going to go to the back of his bullpen.
"Tonight it was Ernie’s situation," Scioscia said.
In the ninth inning of a 3-3 game, Conger asked for a fastball down and away. Frieri didn’t elevate the pitch, as he’d done in the past prior to his demotion, but it tailed inside. That left the ball right in the wheelhouse for left hander Brian Roberts, who turned on the pitch for a solo home run to put the Yankees ahead 4-3.
The ball off of Roberts bat proved to be the game winner. One night after picking up his third save of the season, Frieri was tagged with his third loss.
"One mistake tonight," Scioscia said of Frieri’s outing Tuesday. "He just yanked one pitch down and in to Roberts.
Prior to the Roberts home run, Frieri had retired 16 out of 17 batters over six outings, including Tuesday — with the lone base runner being a hit batter. His mentality didn’t change. He stressed to himself the importance of continuing to make his pitches.
"The last couple of outings I’ve been doing that and today I just went like ‘OK, just attack the strike zone and make sure that I’m going to throw strikes,’ and I got hurt," Frieri said. "It’s crazy."