Brian Fuentes Closes The Door On The ALDS After Jonathan Papelbon Blows 2-run 9th Inning Lead

October 15, 2009 – 1:45 am by Michael Bean

We heard from losing manager Terry Francona here on SRI following the Angels sweep of the Red Sox. I can’t say I agree, but in his ‘exit interview’ on WEEI he mentioned how he wouldn’t change his strategy and pitch to Torii Hunter rather than Vladimir Guerrero if faced with the exact same situation again. Hmm. Hunter’s no slouch, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read about his mind boggling hitting ability like I have with Vlad.

Moving on. Let’s now hear somebody in the winner’s circle – Angels closer Brian Fuentes. The former Colorado Rockie led the American League this year with 48 saves, helping baseball fans in Southern California all but forget previous 9th inning man Francisco ‘K-Rod’ Rodriguez. If you’re not yet aware of how the series ended – with Boston’s closer Jonathan Papelbon blowing a two run lead in the 9th inning – then you can read about it in the Francona post. Or if you’re so inclined, read about the reaction in the Boston Globe from Monday. Who says the curse has been lifted!

Anyway, Brian Fuentes, the Angels closer, had no such similar struggles as his counterpart for the Sox. He pitched a perfect 9th inning for his second save of the series wrapping up Anaheim’s sweep of Boston. Next up? The mighty New York Yankees, who will host the first two games in New York starting Friday evening. Fuentes joined ESPN Radio Los Angeles to talk about the ups and downs of the Angels season, finally getting the monkey off their back against Boston in the playoffs, and what he and the rest of the Angels pitching staff needs to do to keep the explosive Yankees offense in check.

On if he was aware of the Angels’ struggles getting past Boston in the playoffs in recent years:

“I was aware of that earlier in the year. I’ve been following baseball as long as I’ve been playing it and before that. We were all aware of it, but it wasn’t like it was a pressing issue to you know, get the monkey off our backs type of situation.”

On how closers find a way to have a short memory and put past struggles behind them:

“Really it’s just short memory. I tell people time and time again that no matter how well you’re pitching or how poorly you’re pitching, it really doesn’t matter. It has nothing to do with your next save. So have that short memory, wash it out and the only one that matters is the next one.”

On what he and the Angels pitching staff needs to do to keep the potent Yankees lineup in check:

“It’s just getting ahead, not getting them anything they can use against you really. Make them earn their runs. Walks are obviously the first thing that come to mind , but you also have to keep the ball down and throw strikes. You hand out walks to teams like that and a 1 run inning can turn in to something bigger than that. So just throw strikes and – as good as they guys are, these guys are still getting out 7 of 10 times, at least most of them, so you just got to keep that in mind and have confidence in your abilities and go from there.”

Listen here to Fuentes with Mason & Ireland on ESPN Radio Los Angeles (interview begins at 7:42 mark)

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