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Richard Warren Aguilera (born December 31, 1961 in San Gabriel, Californiamarker) is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, and Chicago Cubs.

New York Mets

Aguilera began his career as a third baseman and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in , but he decided to attend Brigham Young Universitymarker instead. By the time the Mets drafted him in , he was a pitcher. Aguilera saw his first Major League action in June as the Mets were in a fierce division race with the Cardinals. He was particularly effective in July, going 3-0 with a 0.89 ERA, and ended the season 10-7 as the Cardinals edged out the Mets. Aguilera posted an identical record the next year in as the number five starter for the division-winning Mets and went on to pitch five scorless innings in relief against the Houston Astros in that year's NLCS. Despite a horrid 12.00 ERA in the World Series that year, he was the pitcher of record in the Mets' dramatic Game 6 comeback victory, getting the win despite giving up the two runs which surrendered the lead to Boston in the top of the 10th inning. Injuries slowed him the next two years, but he did pitch seven innings of one-run relief in the 1988 NLCS, which led to the Mets to experiment with him as a reliever.

Minnesota Twins

At the trading deadline in , Aguilera was one of five pitchers dealt to the Minnesota Twins for Frank Viola. Although he completed the season as a starter, he was shifted to the closer's role in and responded by saving 32 games for a team that went 74-88. The next year, his relief pitching was instrumental in the Twins surprising division title, as he saved 42 games with a 2.35 ERA, a team record that would stand until Eddie Guardado broke it in with 45 saves. He went on to save three of four victories in the ALCS and the first two games of the World Series against the Atlanta Braves. In Game 3, he became the first pitcher to pinch hit in a World Series game since Don Drysdale in 1965, flying out in the top of the 12th with the bases loaded and two outs before giving up the game-winning hit in the bottom of the inning. Aguilera also won Game 6.Aguilera became one of baseball's premier closers with the Twins from - and was named to three All-Star teams from - .

Boston Red Sox

With the Twins well on their way to finishing 44 games behind the AL Central division winning Cleveland Indians, Aguilera was traded to the Red Sox on July 6, in exchange for minor league outfielder J. J. Johnson and pitcher Frank Rodriguez. Aguilera performed well for the AL East champion Red Sox, going 2-2 with 20 saves and a 2.67 ERA in 30 relief appearances. Like a number of his teammates, Aguilera struggled in the playoffs, giving up one run on three hits with one strike out in two-thirds of an inning.

Minnesota Twins, second stint

A free agent following the season, Aguilera opted to return to the Twins. Minnesota skipper Tom Kelly installed Aguilera as a starting pitcher—a position he hadn't been in since starting 11 games for the team in —rather than his familiar closer role. The veteran battled his way to an 8-6 record with a 5.42 ERA in 19 starts, including a pair of complete games. With Aguilera now working as a starting pitcher, Dave Stevens led the pitching staff with 11 saves. Stevens was one of seven Twins pitchers to record a save in . The following season, the experiment of Aguilera as a starting pitcher had ended and the veteran returned to the bullpen. At age 35, he went 5-4 with 26 saves and a 3.82 ERA in 61 outings. In , he recorded 38 saves (the most since saving 41 games in ) in 68 games for the Twins. In , Aguilera had gone 3-1 with 6 saves and a 1.27 ERA in 17 games before the Twins traded the 37-year-old and pitcher Scott Downs to the Chicago Cubs for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan.

Chicago Cubs

Aguilera pitched well for the Cubs, posting a 6-3 record with 8 saves and a 3.69 ERA in 44 games as a middle reliever, set-up man and only occasionally closing out ballgames. At age 38, he entered the season, his 16th season in the big leagues, as the team's closer. Aguilera went 1-2 with 29 saves and a 4.91 ERA in 54 games for the last place Cubs.

Life after baseball

A devout Christian, Aguilera now lives in the San Diegomarker suburb of Rancho Santa Femarker, Californiamarker and dedicates his time to his family (wife Sherry and children Rachel and Austin), real estate investments, coaching high school baseball at Santa Fe Christian, and on Saturday the 21st of June 2008 Rick Aguilera was inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame.

Career, achievements and trivia

  • Aguilera is the Twins' all-time leader saves (254) as well as being 14th on the all-time saves list with 318.
  • Aguilera was a three-time All Star ( , and ).
  • Aguilera performed well in most of his 15 post-season appearances, posting a 4-2 record with 5 saves and a 2.62 ERA, including the 1991 World Series, in which he went 1-1 with 2 saves and a 1.80 ERA in four appearances.
  • Aguilera was inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame on June 21, 2008
  • Aguilera acquired his split-finger fastball after speaking with Ron Darling who suggested Aguilera learn the pitch instead of a change-up. Although Aguilera's fingers were initially too short to properly throw the split-finger, he stretched the cartilage in his fingers by jamming them between a softball in the dugout between starts.


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