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PHOENIX — Right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano has been spectacularly efficient in his first season in Arizona [url=http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/jordan-whitehead-jersey]Authentic Jordan Whitehead Jersey[/url] , 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,” 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 [url=http://www.tennesseetitansteamonline.com/rashaan-evans-jersey]Authentic Rashaan Evans Jersey[/url] , 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.
The Texas Rangers have been one of the best teams in the major leagues during the past week and head home to attempt to continue that trend against the San Diego Padres in a three-game interleague series beginning Monday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
San Diego will send left-hander Joey Lucchesi (3-3, 3.86 ERA) to the mound for the series opener and the Rangers will counter with left-hander Cole Hamels (4-6, 3.41).
Texas had its season-high seven-game winning streak snapped Sunday in Minnesota with a 2-0 loss, but still went 5-1 on the six-game, seven-day road trip to Kansas City (3-0) and Minnesota (2-1).
Twins pitcher Jose Berrios held the Rangers to three hits in seven innings, struck out a career-high 12 batters and spoiled ageless Bartolo Colon’s attempt to tie Dennis Martinez’s record of 245 wins, the most ever by a pitcher from Latin America.
Colon allowed two runs and seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts in seven innings in the loss.
“I will take those type of outings from Bartolo every time,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “You just have to tip your cap to a guy who had really good stuff. Bartolo was solid for us, great mix of fastball location, in the strike zone with all of his pitches. Just commanded the fastball all throughout [url=http://www.tennesseetitansteamonline.com/harold-landry-jersey]Authentic Harold Landry Jersey[/url] , hit all quadrants and managed the game well for us.
“Bartolo threw the ball extremely well. Berrios was just really good.”
The Padres head to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on the heels of a 3-2, 11-inning loss at San Francisco on Sunday. San Diego took the lead in the top of the inning on a two-out single by Cory Spangenberg but couldn’t hold it.
On Sunday, the Padres sent right-hander Jordan Lyles to the 10-day disabled list and announced that he will have his ailing right elbow evaluated by team doctors.
Lyles was scratched from his start on Saturday afternoon with right forearm tightness, prompting an unplanned bullpen day, according to mlb.com.
Immediately before the top of the first inning, pitching coach Darren Balsley noticed Lyles awkwardly stretching his forearm after his pregame bullpen session. Balsley and manager Andy Green inquired, and the Padres decided not to take any chances.
“A 10-day break will do him well,” Green said. “He’ll rest the elbow and then hopefully come back ready to start in 10 days. He’s never had any arm issues, whatsoever, in his entire career. He doesn’t know how to gauge it off past experience. We’re very, very hopeful it’s nothing very serious.”
Lucchesi returned from the disabled list on Wednesday and allowed four runs in just 1 1/3 innings in a loss to Oakland. He said he felt no ill effects from a right hip strain that placed him on the shelf.
It is Lucchesi’s first career start against Texas.
Hamels will make his 16th start of the season. He leads all Texas starters in ERA (3.41), starts (15), innings (92 1/3), and strikeouts (92) and has gone 3-3 with a 2.81 ERA (20 ER/64.0 IP) in his last 10 starts to lower ERA from 4.76 to 3.41
Hamels has gone six-plus innings in his past eight starts, his second-longest streak with the Rangers, and has allowed just one earned run in 13 innings in his last two starts. He will be working on extended five days’ rest after picking up a win in the Rangers’ 4-1 victory on Tuesday in Kansas City.
Hamels has gone 9-2 with a 2.25 in 17 career starts against the Padres.
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