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Grant Balfour blows first save since April 29, 2012

Jul 23, 2013, 11:55 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics v Pittsburgh Pirates Getty Images

Before surrendering a game-tying, two-run home run to Matt Dominguez in the ninth inning of tonight’s loss, Athletics closer Grant Balfour had converted 44 consecutive saves dating back to early 2012, the sixth-longest such streak in baseball history, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Balfour’s last blown save occurred on April 29 against the Orioles, when he gave up a game-tying two-run double to Matt Wieters and then a walk-off three-run home run to Wilson Betemit.

After the Dominguez homer, Balfour recorded an out, then allowed a double to Jonathan Villar and a walk to Jose Altuve. While pitching to Jason Castro, Balfour threw a pitch in the dirt that bounced off of catcher Derek Norris and went to his left. Villar, on second, threatened to advance but ultimately stayed put. Altuve, at first, thought Villar was advancing, so he was about halfway between first and second when Norris fired to first for what should have been an easy second out of the inning. The throw to first baseman Brandon Moss went wide, glancing off of his outstretched glove and dribbling away. Villar raced around the third base bag and easily scored the winning run for the walk-off win. Surprisingly, it is not Balfour’s first loss of the season. He lost on June 23 in Seattle against the Mariners.

Balfour has been a godsend to the Athletics since they signed him to a two-year, $8.1 million contract with a $4.5 million option for 2013. Entering tonight, Balfour had logged 176.1 innings with the A’s, posting a 2.30 ERA with 52 saves. He made the All-Star team for the first time in his career this year. Prior to tonight’s game, he was averaging better than a strikeout per inning with a 1.59 ERA in 39.2 innings. Tonight’s outing bumps his ERA up to 2.03.

  1. kelshannon19 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    He didn’t rage enough on the mound. Too calm. That’s why.

  2. buffalo65 - Jul 24, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    Happens when a guy on my fantasy team is in line for the win, figures.

  3. iamaltair - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Of course nobody mentions Grant Balfour during his quite remarkable consecutive save streak. Great journalism by the way. Instead, you wait until he actually blows a save which in turn ends his consecutive save streak, and then you make a headline out of it. Just a little disappointing to see a great performance by a 36-year old pitcher go unnoticed until he blows a save.

    • rythestunner - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      @iamaltair – it’s an impressive feat, but why should a streak that ranks only 6th in MLB history be noteworthy of national news? It’s been mentioned on ESPN, but there’s no reason to keep making articles out of it when he was barely halfway to Gagne’s record.

  4. regis18 - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    His mouth must have gone dry.

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