Fuentes came at the Rays on Monday with his high-80s fastball, his cheesy mustache and little else, and the Tampa Bay hitters took full advantage. There was nothing cheap about this blown save. Willy Aybar(notes) uncorked a homer to left, a no-doubter. Evan Longoria(notes) roped a game-tying double, plating two runs. Fuentes hit a batter, threw a wild pitch, and was saved a second wild pitch by a lunging Mike Napoli(notes). Fuentes threw 31 pitches in all, and few of them went where they were intended.
It doesn't take much to make a reliever's stat line look messy, and that's the case with Fuentes today: 7.04 ERA, 1.57 WHIP. He's already given up three homers in 7.2 innings. The 10 strikeouts give a little bit of hope – he still hides the ball well, I suppose – but this is not the profile of a dominant closer. You have to wonder if this horror show will play the remainder of the year.
Fernando Rodney(notes) is the obvious handcuff here, though he's coming off a messy performance too (3 H, 1 R, 1 BB). That said, Rodney had a run of 13 straight scoreless outings before losing his way Monday.
• The Red Sox want to run a wheel play for struggling righty Josh Beckett(notes), but if the pitcher isn't healthy, the plan won't matter. The idea was for Beckett to move back two days this week to Friday, which would set him up for a road start at Detroit. This shift would steer Beckett away from two potential problem starts – Wednesday at home against Toronto, and Monday at Yankee Stadium.
Alas, Beckett has other issues going on – he tweaked his back taking batting practice of all things Monday night. Now it's possible we won't see Beckett this week at all.
Pitching coach John Farrell is optimistic that the Red Sox have found some mechanical flaws in Beckett's delivery; that's what pitching coaches usually say in times like these. We won't be privy to the bullpen sessions and you know how big-league clubs control the media (the Red Sox more than anyone), so all we can ultimately go on is what we see on the field.
If you're looking for a silver lining with Beckett, here are two things to consider: one, his struggles this year are basically the mirror image of how he started 2009, and we all remember that he rallied nicely after a poor start; and two, while there are 100 ways in the stats to illustrate how poorly Beckett is throwing right now, those stats don't necessarily offer predictive value, they just explain what we've seen to this point. Tighter mechanics, easier opponents, a little confidence, so many small things could go a long way towards getting the Beckett ship righted.
• Life is never easy for the Brad Lidge(notes) fantasy owner, and we got another issue to worry about Monday night. While the Phillies were rallying in the top of the ninth at Colorado, presenting a likely save situation, the club had Jose Contreras(notes) warming in the bullpen, not Lidge. The reason: Lidge has a sore elbow.
"I felt a little stiffness in my elbow (Sunday night)," Lidge told Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. "I played catch [Monday] and it was still there. Today it didn't feel great. It felt stiff."
As it turns out the Phils didn't have a save situation to protect – they plated four runs against a surprisingly ineffective Manuel Corpas(notes) – but either way, this was Contreras's game to finish. The veteran righty retired three of four Rockies in a scoreless ninth inning.
The Contreras revival is nothing short of astounding. He's at least 38 (some say he's older) but he looks 10 years younger when he throws the ball. He's allowed just one run and six hits over 11.2 superb innings, with one walk and 15 strikeouts. Even if Lidge turns out to be healthy, Contreras has earned the right to be on medium and deep fantasy rosters.
• We've had plenty of fun with the Kelly Johnson(notes) story, but let's keep our feet on the ground. He's down to .272 after a collar Monday, and he's struck out 28 times in 114 at-bats. The Diamondbacks as a team do a whole lot of swinging and missing; they have four players striking out more often than KJ (Justin Upton(notes), Chris Young, Adam LaRoche(notes) and Mark Reynolds(notes)). Air conditioning is free in the desert.
• Florida right-hander Clay Hensley(notes) continues his surprising reinvention tour, picking up a hold with a scoreless inning at Chicago. He's got a 1.96 ERA over 18.1 innings, walking six and striking out 27. Forget looking at the player history here, he's made improvements with his curve and sinker. It's fun watching him pitch.
Injury Blog: Jair Jurrjens(notes) heard a pop in his hamstring while running Monday and is headed for an MRI. Kris Medlen's(notes) trial in the rotation might last for a while. … Troy Tulowitzki(notes) (quad) received good news on his MRI and should be able to avoid the disabled list. … Carlos Gomez(notes) (shoulder) went on the DL Monday, which means more playing time for Jim Edmonds(notes) and Jody Gerut(notes). … Dontrelle Willis(notes) missed his Monday turn because of the flu. … J.D. Drew(notes) (vertigo) was a late scratch Monday. He's apparently dealt with this before and the team didn't seem too worried about it. … Chipper Jones(notes) and Jason Heyward(notes) are both dealing with groin injuries. According to beat writer David O'Brien, Heyward is angling to play Tuesday. … J.J. Hardy(notes) will get his hand evaluated Tuesday, then the Twins will make a decision about the disabled list. … Michael Gonzalez(notes) (shoulder) has been pain-free in his long-toss program according to the Baltimore Sun, but he's not close to a return date.
Speed Round: It wasn't a perfect night for Chad Billingsley(notes) but it was a positive first step, a victory at Arizona. He needed 90 pitches for his 5.1 innings (3 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 7 K). … If the season ended today, Andre Ethier(notes) would be your Triple Crown winner in the National League (.393, 10 homers, 34 RBIs). Have some fun guessing who's second in the league in RBIs right now (here's your guy). … Miguel Olivo(notes) is in a 2-for-28 funk while Chris Iannetta(notes) is off to a good start in Triple-A (.306, three homers, .639 slugging). Clip and save. … You could watch three months of baseball games and not see a sloppier effort than what the Rockies put forth Monday. Seth Smith(notes) and Brad Hawpe(notes) had ugly errors in the outfield, Melvin Mora(notes) dropped an easy double-play ball, a key run scored on a wild pitch, and the decisive Phillies rally started with a hit batter on an 0-2 pitch.
Joel Pineiro(notes) was in line for a win over Tampa Bay before his bullpen blew up. He worked 6.1 scoreless innings and struck out seven. He's at home against Oakland on Sunday, a streamable assignment. … The plucky Nationals are up to 18-14 after a victory over the Mets on Monday. Washington stole four bases on the night, two by Nyjer Morgan(notes). Miguel Batista(notes) got the rogue save for the Nats, as Matt Capps(notes) and Tyler Clippard(notes) both needed a night off. … Troy Glaus(notes) has started to take better swings in May (14-for-34). He hit his third homer of the year Monday. … Tampa Bay catcher John Jaso(notes) continues to pass the eye test. He collected three hits in Anaheim, threw out two base stealers, and made a handful of nice blocks in the dirt. He's in a time-share right now, but I'd like to see him play more than Dioner Navarro(notes). … Yahoo! commenter Boom Dizzle wanted to celebrate Tommy Hanson(notes), so here's some tape on the dominant righty. … Amaranta, here's a kiss, I chose you to end this list.