Ernesto Frieri was brimming with strong emotions Thursday.
The Angels’ closer was sitting at his locker for the first time since blowing saves on consecutive nights Monday and Tuesday in Texas, a series of events that clearly hit the 28-year-old pitcher hard.
On Monday he allowed a pair of solo home runs in the ninth inning, turning a 3-2 Angels lead into a 4-3 loss. On Tuesday he allowed a walk, stolen base and RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning with the Angels ahead 11-10. Frieri was pulled from that game, which the Angels lost 14-11 in the 10th inning.
Frieri never got a chance to atone for his mistakes on Wednesday. Michael Kohn pitched the ninth inning and served up the game-winning home run in a 1-1 game — the Angels’ third consecutive walk-off loss.
“Just keep fighting,” said Frieri, whose earned-run average rose to 4.20 in Texas. “It’s gonna pass sooner or later.”
Frieri said that manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher have offered only words of encouragement, and said nothing about his status as the Angels’ closer. If Frieri weren’t the closer, they would tell him, right?
“I don’t know,” Frieri said. “All I know is, I’m way better than I’ve been doing lately. I know that I can get ‘em out.”
Frieri said he would accept any decision the Angels’ coaching staff made, but also made it clear he would fight for his job.
“I’m gonna die standing up like a warrior,” he said. “I won’t give up. You can write that in big letters. I won’t give up.”
Scioscia isn’t giving up on Frieri entirely, but the manager acknowledged that he’ll now turn to multiple pitchers in save situations.
“We talked about a couple things,” Scioscia said. “We have a lot of guys in our bullpen that have thrown a lot. Some of them need days off. We have the ability to match up a little bit, but Ernie is definitely part of the solution of holding leads for us and part of the solution to close games. We’ll match up a little bit, let Nick (Maronde) face a lefty, let Ernie try to come in to do it. We can match up a little more if we have to.”