Matt Kemp smacked 2-run HRs in the 1st and 2nd innings as the Dodgers improved baseball’s best record to 8-1, their best start since 1981. Of course, they’ve only played San Diego and Pittsburgh so far. Kemp leads the majors with 5 HRs & 15 RBI and has a 1.458 OPS.

Edwin Jackson‘s 92-pitch 2-hitter set a personal best with an 87 Game Score. Jackson, who had never before gone as many as 8 innings on less than 99 pitches, and who tossed 70 balls in his 2010 no-hitter, threw just 25 balls to 30 batters and didn’t have a 3-ball count until the 8th inning, when he issued his only walk.

  • It was the 5th straight Nats game allowing 2 runs or less and lowered their team ERA to 1.82, with 1 HR allowed. Their starters have a 1.75 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 4.23 SO/BB ratio.
  • More importantly, first-place Washington is now 7-2, matching the best start in Nats/Expos history. The last time they started 7-2 was 1981, which was also the team’s only playoff appearance.

The Orioles are alone in first place after their second straight comeback win in Toronto.

  • It’s not how you start…. The O’s sat in first place at 6-2 in 2011, 2009 and 2008, but didn’t reach 70 wins in any season.

The Marlins may be learning the maxim every fantasy baseball player learns sooner or later: Never pay for saves. A corollary says, shun 34-year-olds with declining K rates. Miami signed Heath Bell for a guaranteed 3 years and $24 million, even though his K rate last year lunged to 7.3 SO/9, after averaging 9.8 from 2007-10. Saturday’s blowup was Bell’s second blown save in as many tries. He’s faced 21 batters over 3 innings, allowing 8 hits and 3 walks, with just 2 strikeouts. Bell allowed 4 hits in both blown saves; that’s as many 4-hit games as in his full three years as the Padres’ closer combined.

Protecting a 2-1 lead, Craig Kimbrel loaded the bases with 1 out, then slipped free with a couple of strikeouts. It was his first save ever when allowing 3+ baserunners; he’d allowed a total of 35 baserunners in his 50 prior saves.

After sitting out three games with a broken pinkie, David Wright deemed himself fit to hit Saturday, then proved it by planting some ivy on the first pitch he saw, keying New York’s second straight win in Philadelphia. Wright added a pair of singles and is now 10 for 17 with 4 walks and just 1 strikeout (4 below the SO pace of his past 3 seasons). This is the earliest the Mets have won a series in Philly since 1987.

Rangers 6, Twins 2: Despite losing their top starter to free agency, Texas leads the AL with a 2.22 ERA. In 40 years in Texas, their lowest season ERA was 3.31 in 1983, when they led the junior circuit; they haven’t finished better than 3rd in ERA since then.

Giants 4, Pirates 3: On the day they learned that The Beard may be out for the year, San Francisco leveled their record with their third straight win. The decisive run scored on an error by Clint Barmes, the 2009-11 dWAR leader among middle infielders. Pittsburgh surpassed 2 runs for just the second time in eight games, but still lost their 5th straight. The Bucs are hitting .180 with 8 walks and are 5 for 41 with RISP; they’ve had the bases loaded just twice.

Phil Hughes (beaten up by the Angels today) was named an All-Star in 2010 after an 11-2 first half. In 29 starts since then, Hughes is 11-11 with a 5.65 ERA, averaging less than 5-1/3 IP per start.

When a 2-out HR in the 9th turns defeat into victory … now, that’s what I call a walk-off. (And as a special parting gift, here’s a bonus squeeze play.)

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