What has Brandon League gotten himself into?
League blew his third straight save Friday night, giving up a two-run walkoff home run to Travis Hafner to cap a three-run inning that saw Cleveland storm back for a 5-4 victory and vault one game ahead of Tampa Bay for the AL's best record.
"It's been a tough stretch," Mariners manager Erick Wedge told the Associated Press. "League was one pitch from finishing it off. You have to handle it and be strong, but that doesn't make it hurt any less."
In the last four days, League's three blown saves have caused the Mariners to lose six in a row, as he kicked off the losing streak by allowing three runs in 1 1/3 innings -- he just got away without blowing the save, that's all. Imagine that -- four of Seattle's six-straight losses have come on the backing of League. Overall, in this losing streak, he's 0-4 with 10 earned runs allowed and 12 hits. Amazingly enough, he's coughed up zero walks and whiffed three, in this timespan, with the Hafner home run the only dinger he's given up in the timespan... and all this damage has come in just three innings. He has a tidy 30.00 ERA to show for it.
While League is only one of many relievers tied for second place with four straight games giving up at least two earned runs, League blows by the total earned runs marker as his 12 earned runs allowed top eight relievers' ignominious mark of 10 ER -- but at least these pitchers needed five games to do it. This is a blowup of historic proportions.
"I just have to try and stay as positive as I can," League told MLB.com after the game. "I'm going through a really, really rough patch right now.
"I don't know if they're seeing the ball off me, I don't know if I'm just having bad luck right now. But you could see what happened tonight. All I can do is keep battling and hopefully it'll turn around."It's no surprise that Wedge said he may have to remove League from the closer's role until he figures things out.
"He started off like gangbusters, but he's had a tough three or four days," Wedge said. "We'll have to take a look at everything tomorrow and go from there."
There aren't many great options to succeed League as incumbent David Aardsma is trying to avoid having Tommy John surgery. Veteran Jamey Wright is surprisingly succeeding in relief and could take over. The only other reliever pitching well is David Pauley, and he's more of a long reliever. The club did claim Jeff Gray off waivers from the White Sox earlier Friday and could factor into the decision, but Seattle needs to evaluate Gray first before throwing him in the fire.
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