Street joins elite group with 300th save
Angels closer reaches milestone to secure team's 7th straight win
ANAHEIM -- Joe Smith had a three-run lead to protect for Huston Street, and he was scared.
Street had been sitting on 299 career saves for two weeks, waiting out a groin injury, the All-Star break and an Angels hot streak that wasn't leaving him any save opportunities. But on Wednesday night, in the Angels' 5-2 win over the Twins -- their 17th win in 20 games -- Street finally got his chance. Pitching out of his hunched-over delivery, throwing his high-80s fastball, the 11-year veteran rolled through the heart of the Minnesota batting order for No. 300.
"More than anything, what I appreciate about it is, you know all the work you put in, but you also know how many good teammates you've played with," Street said. "I've pitched in a bunch of great bullpens. There's eight innings of baseball that have to be played -- of winning baseball -- before I even take the mound."
In Anaheim on Wednesday, fittingly, the great teammate responsible for the last of those eight innings of winning baseball was Smith, Street's partner at the back end of the Angels bullpen.
"That was probably the most nervous I've ever been in a three-run lead," Smith said, laughing, after the game. "Just because I know how he gets all ready when he pitches -- he gets pretty amped up. I was doing everything I could to keep it a three-run lead, to give him as much cushion as possible where he could still get the save."
Street joined a group of just 27 Major Leaguers, and four active ones, to reach the 300-save milestone. At age 31, Street is the second-youngest pitcher to ever accomplish the feat, behind only Francisco Rodriguez. The 346 save opportunities it took Street to reach 300 are fifth-fewest all-time.
He's been impressively consistent at a volatile position, and he's done it without a high-90s fastball or a wipeout secondary offering. Street gives a lot of credit to his time in San Diego, where he got the chance to learn from recently retired Trevor Hoffman, one of only two pitchers with 600 career saves.
"I really believe that his presence in my career at that point in time, he changed a lot of my processes in my day," Street said. "Not just in my day when I'm at the field, but my day when I'm at the house; my day when I'm with my children.
"I really leaned on him in those 2 1/2 years there, to learn a lot, and I'm very thankful for that. Because Trevor was someone who -- I mean, 601 saves, I'm not even halfway there yet. He was someone I continue to look up to, continue to keep in contact with. That was a big adjustment in my career ... my time with him."
"Not even halfway there" is still plenty impressive. It takes a lot to get to 300 saves.
"First, obviously, you need talent. Secondly, you need that mental makeup that any guys pitching at the back end of a Major League bullpen need," manager Mike Scioscia said. "And Huston Street has both of them.
"Huston getting his 300th save puts him in an elite group."