Jose Mesa's progression as a pitcher has gone from failed starter to decent middle reliever to record-breaking closer.
Mesa, who entered the season with two major league saves, made history Sunday when he earned his 37th save in 37 chances after the Cleveland Indians rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-5.By continuing his streak of not allowing an earned run since June 8, Mesa surpassed Dennis Eckersley's single-season mark of 36 straight saves without a blown opportunity set in 1992. San Francisco's Rod Beck converted a record 41 in a row over three seasons from 1993-95.
"(Pitching coach) Mark Wiley looked at me after two outs and said, `You realize he's in uncharted territory,"' manager Mike Hargrove said. "`Nobody in the history of this game has been where he's about to be.' I think it's the most improbable thing anybody can imagine."
Mesa began his career as a starter with Baltimore, going 13-24. The Orioles traded him to Cleveland on July 14, 1992, for Kyle Washington.
The Indians used him as a starter for 1 1/2 more seasons before letting him pitch long relief last season, when he went 7-5 with a 3.82 ERA.
Now, he uses his 98 mph for one inning - the length he's pitched in each of his last 40 appearances - and preserves victory after victory as Cleveland has a 19-game lead in the AL Central.
"This is the first time I've done it, and so far I've had success," Mesa said. "I like it right now. I don't know how long it's going to last."
Paul Sorrento and Wayne Kirby each drove in two runs in the eighth inning as the Indians overcame a 5-3 deficit off Steve Sparks (7-7).
Julian Tavarez (8-1) pitched one inning of relief and was the latest beneficiary of Mesa's relief perfection.
Twins 8, Tigers 7, 10 innings
Minnesota got out-homered 4-3 in Detroit, but Chip Hale's one-out homer in the top of the 10th gave the Twins the victory.
Rich Becker hit his second home run and Kirby Puckett his 16th for Minnesota. Bobby Higginson, who has 14 home runs, had the first two-homer game of his career, Cecil Fielder hit his 24th and Lou Whitaker his 11th for Detroit.
John Doherty (4-8) allowed Hale's homer, while Pat Mahomes (3-5), the last of six Twins pitchers, got the win.
Blue Jays 4, Royals 3
John Olerud hit Toronto's second game-winning, pinch-hit single in as many days, driving in Mike Huff with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Huff singled to third and went to second when Gary Gaetti bobbled the ball and threw over first base. Alex Gonzalez was walked intentionally and Olerud, pinch-hitting for Randy Knorr, singled to left-center off Gregg Olson (1-1).
Reliever Mike Timlin (4-1) pitched a scoreless ninth.
Rangers 6, White Sox 4
Texas increased its lead in the wild-card race to 21/2 games over New York on the strength of a six-run first inning in Chicago.
Kenny Rogers (12-5) won his third consecutive decision, giving up seven hits over 7 1-3 innings.
Jason Bere (5-11), activated from the disabled list for the start, allowed six runs on four hits and three walks in two-thirds of an inning.
Athletics 6, Orioles 3
Doug Johns allowed two hits in 5 2-3 innings in his second major league start as host Oakland scored four runs in the second. Johns (1-0) replaced Ron Darling, who was released.
Stan Javier went 3-for-4 with three RBIs for Oakland.
Scott Erickson (8-10) lasted 1 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and six hits. In four August starts, he has lasted 3 1-3 innings or less three times.
Angels 10, Yankees 5
Jim Edmonds drove in three runs to take over the major league lead in RBIs with 95, one more than Colorado's Dante Bichette.
Edmonds, who also leads the majors with 101 runs, became the first Angel to score 100-plus runs since 1987.
Mark Langston (13-2) remained undefeated in eight decisions and 11 starts at home since Aug. 3, 1994.
Sterling Hitchcock (6-8) allowed eight runs in four-plus innings.
Red Sox 7, Mariners 6
Boston increased its lead in the AL East to 11 1/2 games over the Yankees, the Red Sox's biggest lead of the season and biggest as a franchise since a 12-game lead Sept. 29, 1946.
Rick Aguilera allowed Edgar Martinez's three-run homer with two outs in the ninth that pulled Seattle within one run. But he struck out Jay Buhner for his 22nd save to preserve the victory for Rheal Cormier (6-3).
Chris Bosio (8-6) took his first loss in his last five starts.