Fuentes' save gone, forgotten

Fuentes puts Tuesday in rear-view mirror

ANAHEIM -- In the closing business, it's what you've done lately -- as in your most recent appearance -- that counts.

Brian Fuentes, a quiet, studious man who takes his job very seriously, was reading a book at his locker on Wednesday night. He literally was turning the page, an expression heard frequently in Major League clubhouses.

For relievers such as Fuentes, moving on, quickly, to the next fresh page is a necessity. Those who carry bad themes with them don't last long, something Fuentes, a professional since 1996, learned years ago.

"I'm pretty good at getting on to the next one, not dwelling on my previous game," Fuentes said.

Protecting a 2-1 lead on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium in pursuit of what would have been his first 40-save season, Fuentes served a fastball that Mike Sweeney lifted over the center-field wall in the ninth inning. Gone was a win for Scott Kazmir in the lefty's second start for the Angels, who prevailed, 3-2, in 10 innings.

Boos greeted Fuentes as he left the mound having recorded one out, walking two men after Sweeney's blast. Jason Bulger left both runners stranded with two outs of brilliant relief.

"After what Brian's done for us," Bulger said, "it was nice to be able to help him out there."

Manager Mike Scioscia has pitching coach Mike Butcher monitoring Fuentes, as he does all of his craftsmen on a daily basis.

"Brian's a high-maintenance guy who has a complicated delivery," Scioscia said. "Brian's been doing a job for us.

"Every pitcher is searching for that consistency, bringing it into the game. For the most part, Brian has brought that. He works hard at it. The lion's share of the time, he's brought his good stuff into the game and gotten the job done."

Fuentes has notched his 39 saves in 45 opportunities for a .867 success rate.

If he is being measured against his predecessor, Francisco Rodriguez, in his record-setting 2008 season, Fuentes is falling short of K-Rod's 62-for-69 (.899) performance.

If, however, Fuentes is evaluated against the K-Rod closing for the Mets this season, the lefty has the edge. Rodriguez has converted 30-of-35 potential saves for a success rate of .857.

Then there is Brad Lidge. Mr. Perfect for the World Series champion Phillies one year ago, the big right-hander has fallen on hard times. He's 28-for-38 for a .737 percentage.

Luckily for Lidge, he has built a solid credit line. Philadelphia, in case you haven't heard, can be a tough town for a struggling athlete.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.