SEATTLE -- It appears that Ernesto Frieri is no longer a one-pitch pitcher. The Angels closer started Corey Hart with a slider for a called strike and then struck out the Seattle slugger looking at a slider Wednesday night, part of a scoreless ninth inning that secured his first save and a 2-0 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
“All the hitters pretty much cheated on me -- they knew the fastball was coming,” Frieri said. “It’s time for me to start pitching, moving hitters’ feet, using my secondary pitches. I trust them a lot now.”
Frieri relied almost exclusively on his lively 95-mph fastball to rack up 60 saves over the last two seasons, but most of his meltdowns and blown saves came when his fastball lost a little steam and hitters sat on the pitch.
Frieri came to spring training determined to refine his slider and changeup, and he used both pitches, though the slider was more effective than the changeup, when he finally got his first save opportunity -- in the ninth game of the season -- Wednesday night.
“I have to show the hitter it’s not just the fastball anymore,” Frieri said. “I have a secondary pitch that I can throw in any count. I threw the changeup too. Now I can throw the slider or changeup when they’re looking for the fastball.”