ANAHEIM -- When Angels manager Mike Scioscia went out to congratulate Francisco Rodriguez for breaking the single-season saves record on Saturday, he had a simple message for his closer. "Hey, congratulations, and there's maybe 10 or more saves you're hopefully going to get before this season's all said and done," Scioscia recalled telling Rodriguez. Scioscia marveled at Rodriguez breaking Bobby Thigpen's single-season saves record with his 58th conversion on Saturday in a season in which only one other pitcher (Houston's Jose Valverde with 42) has even broken the 40-save barrier.
"Francisco's in the elite class of pitchers in baseball," Scioscia said. "There aren't many closers in baseball that have the stamina, durability and talent that Francisco has. He's prepared for it. It's a special season, and he'll keep going." Angels starter Jon Garland, who picked up the win on Saturday when Rodriguez held the Halos' lead, has enjoyed being teammates with Rodriguez this season after the starter came over in an offseason trade with the White Sox. "He's been absolutely tremendous," Garland said. "Throughout the season, you play so many close games, it almost becomes second nature -- you don't even think twice about it. When he's coming in, the door's going to get shut. He's probably our MVP up to this point with how many games he's shut them down the way he has." Juan Rivera was happy to support his countryman's record-breaking efforts with three doubles and a homer. "First of all, Frankie since the beginning of the year, you can tell the focus in his eyes," Rivera said through a translator. "I'm very proud of him as a Venezuelan. I'm very happy for him as a teammate, because as a team, we know the impact he's had closing out games." Scioscia described Rodriguez's achievement as a team effort, as a club must win a lot of games for a closer to have as many chances as Rodriguez has had in 2008. The record put the cherry on top of a stellar week for the Angels, in which they clinched the American League West on Wednesday earlier than any other team in history. "A lot of great things have happened this week," Scioscia said. "We did a lot of things right on the field, and for it to culminate tonight with Frankie setting a record, that's up there with any record in baseball that's special. So we're very excited for Frankie, the year he's having, the career he's having."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.