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After 12 years and 102 games finished, Matt Albers finally recorded his very first save

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Ryan Webb can rest easy tonight: His record of 105 games finished without a save is safe. Matt Albers, who was a close second with 102 games finished, is no longer chasing the mark. The right-hander recorded his first career save against the Phillies in the Nationals' 4-2 victory on Friday night.

It's an odd record -- if you can even call it that -- requiring skill and longevity, with teams trusting the pitcher in the late innings over multiple seasons, but never putting them in the game to close it out. Esoteric baseball fans have fallen in love with the chase thanks to the Effectively Wild podcast's quasi-movement around the mark. 

Coming in to finish his 103rd career game, things looked shaky at first for the veteran reliever. Cesar Hernandez hit a deep drive foul before he trotted down to first base following a hit-by-pitch. But Albers saw the end in sight. Strikeouts of Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera put the Nationals reliever one out away:

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After Maikel Franco grounded out to end the game, the streak was over. Albers had his save. 

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After the victory, Albers told MLB.com's Jamal Collier, "I'm kind of glad it's over with. It's just one, so it's not really moving me up the charts too much.

"Couple years ago they did a little story, I can't remember who, but obviously they knew I hadn't got [one save]," Albers added about his placement on the leaderboard. "I didn't really think anything of it ... so it's nice to get this one. It's not fun, but it's not the end of the world."

Stephen Strasburg, who homered and got the win, was happy for his teammate. "It's awesome," the starter said. "I guess good things happen to those who wait. He goes out there and knows what his strengths are and attacks the zone. So it's always fun to watch him pitch."

Manager Dusty Baker recognized the feat by giving the game ball and lineup card to Albers. "He's done about everything," the skipper said. "They just informed me that was his first career save, and he was only a few away from the most appearances or games finished without a save, or something. Every day I'm giving these guys different lineup cards for different personal achievements or career achievements. These guys are giving me all they've got."

Now that Albers' streak is over, and Webb is in Triple-A, it's unlikely we'll see a challenge to the record anytime, soon. The next active pitcher behind Webb is George Kontos, with only 63 games finished to his name.

Here's the current top 10: 

Rk Player GF
1 Ryan Webb 105
2 George Kontos 63
3 Jose Mijares 63
4 Carlos Almanzar 63
5 Rich Monteleone 61
6 John Halama 58
7 Bill Bailey 56
8 Ryan Mattheus 55
9 Doug Slaten 55
10 Michael Tonkin 53

Though he waited 12 seasons for his first career save, the wait may not be that long for Albers' second. The right-hander has yet to allow a run in 11 1/3 innings this season, thanks in part to his command around the strike zone.

"I think just being able to work on throwing my four-seamer at the top of the zone to lefties and righties a little bit has helped, because it seems like guys are kind of low-ball hitters more so now than maybe before," the right-hander noted. "I think just making that adjustment and sharpening up my slider and changeup and throwing that more. All that together, and then just confidence. ... We've got a rotation that goes deep every night I think that helps the bullpen."

With Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover on the DL, Albers could be the man called upon to fill-in. After all, even if he doesn't have a lot of experience saving games, he has plenty of it in finishing them off. 

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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