Capps' confidence unwavering
After tough stretch, Pirates closer wants the ball again
CHICAGO -- Matt Capps hasn't yet spent 13 months with the closer title attached to his name, but the 24-year-old righty sure does have a grasp on the philosophy it takes to be successful in the role.
"To do this job," Capps said, "you have to have the memory of a fish."
As the Pirates open their second of five straight Interleague series -- this one in Chicago against the White Sox -- Capps finds himself dwelling on that mentality more than ever.
The Pittsburgh closer enters the series having blown saves in each of the team's last two games, both of which came in Baltimore. Go back a little more, and Capps actually has been unable to convert save opportunities in three of his last four appearances.
This hiccup comes after he opened the season converting all 15 save opportunities.
Between an off-day on Monday (the team's first since May 26) and a change of scenery, though, it's safe to say Capps has no intention of taking his recent results with him the next time he takes the mound.
"You can't let what happened yesterday or last week or last month, even, carry over," said Capps, who has allowed six runs -- four earned -- and three home runs in his last 4 2/3 innings. "Obviously it's kind of hard until you get on the airplane. But once you get out of the ballpark, you have to let it go and move on."
Capps went on to peg his woes last week to errant fastball location.
However, it would seem to be no coincidence that this -- the most trying stretch of Capps' young career -- comes as he is being called on to close games at a near frenzied pace. Capps notched five saves in the first nine days of the months, and he's pitched in nine of 15 June games. Included in that stretch was a run of pitching on four straight days.
That leads to the obvious question: Could excess in workload have led to some fatigue?
Ask Capps, and he'll shoot down that theory.
"It might, but nothing noticeable," said Capps, who, in comparison, threw in just 11 games all of May. "I prefer throwing a lot."
Capps has the track record to back that up, too. In 2006, as a 22-year-old, Capps pitched in 85 games, a club rookie record and a total that was second-highest in the National League. He led the Pirates in appearances again last season, logging 79 innings in 76 outings.
And if he keeps his current pace, Capps once again will eclipse the 70-game mark this season.
"I like going out and throwing as much as I can and compete as much as I can," he said. "I would much rather have it that way than sit around for a week and throw two games and then go five or six days again."
In other words, don't expect Capps' recent struggles to keep him from asking for the ball. And, yes, that includes Tuesday.
"Hopefully I'll get a chance to go out and throw in the bottom of the ninth [on Tuesday]," Capps said grinning.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.