Saturday, June 4, 2011
Jordan Walden's key and the lineups
By Mark Saxon
It usually doesn't take long to figure out what kind of day Jordan Walden is going to have. Give the rookie closer three or four pitches and you usually have a pretty good idea.
Walden can be prone to wildness when he first comes into games and the result, often, has been letting the leadoff batter reach base. In his five bad outings this season, the leadoff man has reached in four of them -- three times by walk.
Like most closers, Walden has a hard time holding on runners, so a walk or single is often times the same as a double.
"The biggest out for any closer is that first hitter," manager Mike Scioscia said. "You get that first out and it certainly creates some momentum on your side as a closer. Even if a one-out rally starts, there's always that light at the end of the tunnel."
Walden said he's focusing on keeping the "leadoff dude" off base and lately he has done a better job. After blowing three saves in a five-outing sequence last month, he has closed six in a row successfully. Friday night, he fell behind 3-and-1 to Robinson Cano, but eventually struck him out with a slider.
"Once the adrenaline kicks in, it can be hard to control at times," Walden said. "But I'm getting more and more comfortable, every time out a little more."
Here are the lineups for Saturday night's game vs. the New York Yankees: