Rookie reliever pitches scoreless inning after entering two-on, none-out jam
By Ben Weinrib
DENVER -- With closer Jake McGee placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained MCL earlier in the day, there was uncertainty at the back of the Rockies' bullpen. Carlos Estevez removed any question marks with a shutdown save in Colorado's 5-3 win over San Diego Saturday.
Before the game, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said that closing duties would be shared between Estevez and Jason Motte, who has closing experience with the Cardinals and Cubs. However, it was the rookie Estevez who stepped up in the biggest situation, earning his first career save.
Motte came in to pitch the last out of the eighth but had trouble to start the ninth inning, giving up a double to Matt Kemp and hitting Brett Wallace. Weiss then turned to Estevez, who threw 28 pitches Friday.
Estevez retired the first two batters of the ninth on a fly out and pop out before catcher Dustin Garneau caught Travis Jankowski stealing for the final out. Weiss was impressed enough with Estevez to name him the closer during McGee's absence after the game.
"He's been huge for us," Weiss said. "… It's a tough situation for the kid, but he's done it several times this year. He's come in tough spots and put the inning down."
Estevez handled the situation well, needing only eight pitches, seven of which went for strikes.
"It's almost the same thing as the eighth inning," Estevez said. "The game's close, you've got to keep it close, you've got to keep it that way, and I've just got to get outs. That's all it is."
Estevez was a closer in the Minors last season -- racking up 18 saves between Class A Advanced Modesto and Double-A New Britain along with six more in the Arizona Fall League -- but closing in the Major Leagues represented an exciting new challenge for him.
"You know, today I just felt like my debut," Estevez said. "A little bit nervous, but after the first pitch, that's it. Let's go. Let's get it. It's three outs."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.