Billy Wagner announced in April that he would retire after the season ended, his 16th in the bigs. After saving 37 games and posting arguably his best season ever, nobody could have figured his career might have ended on such a sour note.
Coming in to pitch the bottom of the 10th inning in a 4-4 game between the Braves and Giants, Wagner initially hurt himself trying to field a perfectly executed drag bunt by Edgar Renteria. The next batter, Andres Torres, also bunted, sacrificing one back to Wagner. Billy barely got off the mound but he was able to field the bunt and make the throw to first to get the out. It was clear that Wagner was hurting after the play and he left the game clinching his side. Kyle Farnsworth replaced him and loaded up the bases, leading to one of the game’s most critical plays when Buster Posey grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Braves went on to win the game thanks to a home run by Rick Ankiel in the top of the 11th and a successful half inning by Farnsworth, but they lost Wagner for the rest of the series. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Wagner is out at least the rest of the series with a strained oblique and will be replaced on the roster by Takashi Saito. Based on playoff roster rules, Wagner will be ineligible to return until the World Series. That means Wagner’s career came to an end on that pitch to Andres Torres in Game 2. Unless the Braves make it to the World Series. Or Billy Wagner decides to postpone retirement.
I don’t know what the outcome will be in the situation, but I do know that if that was the last Major League pitch Billy Wagner ever threw, it sure was one crappy way for one of the best closers in history to go out. He deserved much better than that.