Los Angeles Angels closer Ernesto Frieri entered this season hoping to have a great start to his redemption year on the mound, but that was not the case on Wednesday night.
Frieri made his season debut in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Seattle Mariners, and it was anything but an encouraging first appearance. Frieri, just like teammate Kevin Jepsen in his ninth inning appearance in Monday’s season opener 10-3 loss, was able to get the first two batters his faced out, but from that point on it is where things quickly escalated in the wrong direction as he threw two missed location pitches that resulted in back-to-back solo home runs from Justin Smoak and Corey Hart.
Although Frieri was able to finish the inning out by allowing just those two hits, it was nonetheless a possible dose of reality. His early-season struggles could mean that the 28-year-old has not gotten past his pitching problems of last year that saw him post a career-worst in ERA (3.80), home runs (11) and hits allowed (55).
This bad start to the season is nothing short of upsetting for the right-hander, who looked to be in top form this past spring training as he threw 10 scoreless innings of work with just two hits allowed in 10 appearances. But in Wednesday’s loss to the Mariners, it brought back instant memories of last season where Frieri was often shaky on the mound as the team’s closer.
Although it is just his first game of 2014 campaign, it does not take away from the fact that he is already having problems on the mound this early in the season. But most importantly it does not give any notion that he is an improved pitcher. The Angels are looking to have a turnaround season and games like this from Frieri it only hurt their cause.