Ernesto Frieri has given up four earned runs on three home runs in his last… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
A pair of ninth-inning meltdowns against Kansas City last Saturday night and Texas on Thursday night have cost right-hander Ernesto Frieri the Angels' outright closer job.
Manager Mike Scioscia said before Friday night's game against the Chicago White Sox that he will "match up more" in the ninth inning with left-hander Scott Downs, right-hander Kevin Jepsen and Frieri, citing the need "to take a little pressure off a guy whose confidence is not quite where it should be."
Frieri was dominant for four months, with a 3-0 record, 1.91 earned-run average and 19 saves in 21 opportunities through Sept. 14. But after replacing Zack Greinke with a 2-0 lead and one out in the ninth on Saturday, he gave up a two-run homer to Billy Butler and a solo shot to Salvador Perez for a 3-2 loss.
In his next appearance Thursday night against the Rangers, he replaced Greinke to start the ninth with the score tied, 1-1. Frieri gave up a single to Michael Young and a two-run homer to Adrian Beltre, and the Angels lost, 3-1.
"His last couple of outings haven't been as crisp," Scioscia said. "The back end of the bullpen is fragile. Ernie is going to get the ball in important situations, whether it's the eighth or ninth inning. When you're matching up, which we've done for most of the year, those outs in eighth are as important as the ones in ninth."
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