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Oh yeah, it's official: I'm off the Eric Gagne bandwagon. Actually, the bandwagon is officially on jacks in a questionable neighborhood.
In fact, save the "I told you so's" for later, too.
The reason the signing of Gagne has become a joke is none other than Salomon Torres. And you thought I was nuts for initially approving the Gagne acquisition. There's no limit to my insanity and no limit to what I can get excited about after seeing one winning season since I was eight years old.
Since becoming the Brewers' closer on May 24th, Torres, who was acquired this past December in a trade that shipped two minor league relief pitchers I'd put Big Brown-like odds on you never hearing of again, has six saves without giving up a single run. His ERA has dropped from 3.14 to 2.50, and he has only given up two friggin hits during that time.
His run culminated in a dazzling performance against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
The game appeared to be headed toward a repeat of Friday night, in which Guillermo Mota surrendered four runs without recording an out to let the win slip away. It was the fourth blown save of the year in games that Ben Sheets had started. But, on Sunday, with a runner on third and one out in the eighth inning, Torres entered. I now feel embarrassed for not being more confident.
Torres walked the first batter to set up a double play that he would never need. Instead, Torres got Omar Quintanilla to ground lazily back to the mound. With the runner on first off on the pitch to avoid the double play, Torres fired home and forced Brad Hawpe into a rundown, preserving the lead for the time being. Now with runners on first and second, Torres induced a groundout from Jonathan Herrera to end the threat.
He then set the Rox down in order in the ninth for his sixth straight save. All in a day's work, eh?
Following the game, manager Ned Yost couldn't remember the last time -- if ever -- he used his closer for five outs on the road. A little fact checking showed that the last time Yost even brought his closer on in the eighth inning on the road for save, the Cincinnati Reds hung two runs on Francisco Cordero in the bottom of the ninth to win the game.
Am I ready to hand the ball to Torres in the ninth the rest of the way? Not yet, but that sentiment is changing quickly.
Either way, I'll take the time to congratulate certain people in the organization for the doing their jobs: Doug Melvin for stocking the bullpen enough that the Brewers were bound to find someone to pitch the ninth, Mike Maddux for proving once again that he's one of the best pitching coaches in the business, and naturally Torres himself for doing what closers are supposed to do, which is finish the damn game, something Eric Gagne has forgotten how to do.
Like I said before, you can call me crazy -- or whatever other words come to mind -- for thinking Salomon Torres is a Godsend, but when you've watched four of your ace's win-worthy performances -- and probably a couple mentions in Cy Young talks -- fall by the wayside, you become thankful there's a guy on the team who can get it done.
But then you remember you're still paying the other guy $7 million more, and you begin to let out a few choice four-letter words before searching endlessly for ways to ship him and your whiny third baseman off for some starting pitching. Such is the life of a small market team trying to stretch their salary for some high-priced free agents.