PHOENIX — Right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano has been spectacularly efficient in his first season in Arizona Authentic Blake McLaughlin Jersey , part of the reason the Diamondbacks will enter their four-game series against the San Diego Padres with the best bullpen ERA in the majors.|
Hirano may be a major league rookie, but his work the last five seasons as a closer with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan has translated well.
Hirano, 34, had a franchise-record 26-game scoreless streak broken in an 8-4 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday, when he finished one scoreless appearance short of tying former Red Sox right-hander Koji Uehara for the longest such streak by a Japanese-born pitcher in major league history. Even that loss could not diminish the value Hirano has had this season.
Arizona right-hander Shelby Miller is scheduled to face San Diego left-hander Eric Lauer in the first game of the series Thursday.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo was Boston’s bench coach when Uehara set the record in 2013, so he can provide a comparison of Uehara and Hirano.
“They have the same work habits, which is pretty impressive,” Lovullo said. “They both come in and get their work done pregame. They come in and get their work done postgame. They find themselves healthy and strong and prepared for every single one of their outings.
“They both have a fearlessness to their game and an approach to understanding what needs to happen during each at-bat. They are not afraid to put the ball on the plate with two different pitches. They go out and expect to get outs. Very similar mind-set. Very similar makeup. Very similar confidence.”
Hirano is 2-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 42 appearances. He has 19 holds, fourth in the majors, and he has permitted only one of his 16 inherited runners to score while being primarily used in the seventh inning. Eighth-inning reliever Archie Bradley leads the majors with 22 holds and closer Brad Boxberger has 20 saves.
Uehara began the 2013 season in a similar setup role in the Boston bullpen before advancing to the closer’s role after injuries thinned the relief corps. He finished with 21 saves, a 1.09 ERA and an 0.57 WHIP.
“As soon as he became the closer, he gave off a certain edge and a certain confidence that was noticeable Authentic Rasmus Dahlin Jersey ,” Lovullo said.
“It’s as close to a slam dunk, shut-down ninth-inning save as I’ve ever seen. He had this ability to collect outs and get through innings in 12 pitches or less. It was so quick, the ninth inning was over before it even started. It was a very comfortable setting for all of us. You played the Boston Red Sox in 2013 for eight innings because the ninth inning was over. That’s what I remember.”
Hirano has a 1.01 WHIP, fourth among major league relievers with at least 40 appearances.
“He’s been very versatile,” Lovullo said. “He’s unfazed by any role we have asked him to do. He can pitch in traffic. He can start clean innings. He can get left-handers and right-handers out.”
The Diamondbacks lost two of three to St. Louis and have dropped five of their past six games overall. They took two out of three games in their only other series against the Padres this season, also at Chase Field.
San Diego has slumped over the last 2 1/2 weeks. The Padres have lost three in a row and are 3-13 since beating Atlanta 9-3 behind left-hander Clayton Richard on June 15. They have scored 30 runs in their last 10 games.
“We’re not getting hits with runners in scoring position,” San Diego manager Andy Green told reporters after a two-game sweep in Oakland.
“Sometimes the best thing you can do is relax, go play baseball and enjoy what you’re doing. Then the hits start coming.”
Christian Villanueva hit his 17th homer for the Padres in a 4-2 loss to the A’s Wednesday.
Miller is 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA in two starts this season after returning from a 14-month absence following Tommy John surgery in last May, 2017. He has given up 15 hits and 11 runs in 8 2/3 innings.
Miller is 2-2 with a 4.54 ERA in eight career appearances, including seven starts, against the Padres. He had a strong outing against them early last season, giving up four hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings in the third of his four starts before suffering the elbow injury.
Rookie Lauer joined the Padres’ rotation in late April and is 3-5 with a 5.08 ERA in 13 starts this season. He was 2-2 with a 2.76 ERA in six June starts and is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA in seven road starts.
He has never faced the Diamondbacks.
THOUSAND OAKS Andrei Svechnikov Jersey , Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams are trying to get to where the Atlanta Falcons were last season — the Super Bowl.
That’s a lofty goal for the NFL’s youngest team. But Los Angeles (11-5) can take its first step in that direction when hosting the Falcons (10-6) in an NFC wild-card game Saturday night.
In the Rams’ second year in their return to L.A., they will host a playoff game at the storied Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time since the 1978 season.
Atlanta returns to the playoffs after last season’s painful loss in Super Bowl LI. The Falcons led the New England Patriots by 25 points before succumbing, 34-28 in overtime.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn isn’t expecting that meltdown to haunt his squad.
“I love the resiliency and the toughness of this team,” Quinn said. “When you’ve been through some of the fire together, you come out the other side stronger as a brotherhood.”
The Rams have done little wrong under rookie head coach Sean McVay. At 31, McVay is the league’s youngest coach and is directing its most prolific offense.
Behind a unit averaging nearly 30 points per game, McVay helped flip a team that went 4-12 last season to NFC West champions and back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Quarterback Jared Goff has gone from bust to being accurate and efficient. Running back Todd Gurley churned out a league-best 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns.
With wide receivers Sammy Watkins, Roberts Woods and rookie Cooper Kupp, there’s no shortage of targets for Goff to aim his passes.
But the Falcons have a core of players and the motivation from that painful Super Bowl lesson tucked away. They are older and maybe wiser, but the No. 3-seeded Rams, aren’t fretting over their lack of postseason reps.
“I don’t think it is a concern Authentic Adam Boqvist Jersey ,” McVay said. “When I say that, I have a whole lot of respect for experience and what that does and the value that it provides. But I do think that we’ve got a confident group, a mature group for a young football team.”
How Goff responds to the oversized setting is among the red flags the team’s detractors mention. But after going 0-7 in his rookie year, Goff has thrown for 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions this year in leading a balanced attack. He seems at-ease with the task at hand.
“I think more than anything it’s a big game,” Goff said. “I think that’s what it boils down to and we do have experience with that stuff.
“We played a big game in Seattle a couple weeks ago. We played a big game two weeks ago against Tennessee. We played a big game against the Eagles … we had a bunch of big games against top teams this year and so I think that experience will translate mostly to this game.”
Quinn is familiar with Goff’s offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur. He held that same position with the Falcons last year.
“What I have been most impressed by is you have to defend the entire field,” Quinn said of LaFleur’s approach. “When you have a team that has the run, has the play-action, the quarterback-boot and stuff, it makes it real difficult and challenging to defend.”
The sixth-seeded Falcons will lean on savvy quarterback Matt Ryan (20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions) and a deep running attack spearheaded by Devonta Freeman (865 yards, seven touchdowns).
Although Julio Jones has had an inconsistent season Authentic Martin Kaut Jersey , he remains dangerous with 1,444 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
While McVay is the youthful vibe of offense, it’ll be the sage Wade Phillips, the Rams’ 70-year-old defensive coordinator doing his best to stop the Falcons.
All of this will be played out in the historic L.A. Coliseum venue with an expected 70,000 on hand to toast the Rams return to the playoffs in L.A. The Rams left Los Angeles and relocated to St. Louis after the 1994 season, an absence that lasted until 2016.
“It’s definitely a cool thing,” Goff said. “After football has been gone here for so long and we came back year two and being able to bring a playoff game to the Coliseum is very cool.”