Saturday game notes: Dodgers rewriting history
Dodgers 5, @Phillies 0 — Ho-hum. Clayton Kershaw cut his ERA to 1.80 with eight 3-hit innings, and he chipped in an RBI double, as the Dodgers won again, of course. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.
Kershaw put away the first 12 men, and picked off the first who dared to reach, keeping the keystone pristine until a double in the 8th. The Phils trailed just 2-0 when Carlos Ruiz pinch-hit with 2 outs in that inning, the tying runs aboard, sporting a 6-for-14 mark against Kershaw. But the southpaw’s 100th pitch got him swinging on a full count, and Juan Uribe’s 3-run HR in the next frame finished off his perfect day and sealed the outcome.
- Kyle Kendrick gave up 2 runs (one earned) in 6 IP, collecting 4 DPs.
- After 2 games under Ryne Sandberg, the Phillies have 6 hits and no runs, committing 4 errors.
- The Dodgers have won 10 straight and are 24-3 since the All-Star Break. At 72-50, they’re now tied for the 2nd-best record in all of baseball. “Thirty and forty-two” has been erased from history. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a pair of spikes stamping on a pennant race — forever.
- Yasiel Puig’s latest basepath boner: He tried to take 3rd on a flyout to medium CF, out easily to end the inning with Hanley Ramirez on deck. Third-base coach was clearly disgusted, but will any message get through? And will there ever be a game where his mistakes really matter?
@Red Sox 6, Yankees 1 – Dreams or fears of a ’78-style “Boston Massacre” faded as the Yanks missed early chances and the Sox gave Hiroki Kuroda his toughest outing since May, with a little help from the pinstriped defense. New York failed to score in the 2nd despite 2 singles, 2 walks and a steal, the inning heading south when Alfonso Soriano was doubled off on a pop-up. Kuroda pitched out of trouble in the 2nd and 3rd, but Boston cashed in the 4th. With men on the corners and 1 out, 1B Lyle Overbay took a grounder and threw to 2nd, gambling for the inning-ending DP (instead of the gimme out at home on David Ortiz), but the throw went awry and all were safe, as the Sox jumped on top. A pair of 2-out hits made it 3-0 that inning, and though the Yankees tallied in their next raps, John Lackey held them to one run after the inning started single-double, and that was their last major threat.
- Soriano singled in his first two trips (caught stealing the 2nd time), but fell short in his bid for a 5th straight 3-hit game. The last such streak was in 1976, when George Brett had six in a row with exactly 3 hits (but just one HR and 4 RBI). In 1923, Jimmy Johnston also had six in a row, totaling 23 hits. Rod Carew had a string of five in 1975, as did Ted Sizemore in 1970, and four others in the 1930s.
Diamondbacks 15, Pirates 5 – Arizona laid wood to Pittsburgh pitching with season highs in hits and runs, knocking out Jeff Locke in a 6-run 3rd, then busting it open with 7 late runs after the Bucs had made a game of it again. Consecutive HBPs put the 3 tying runs aboard for Neil Walker with 2 outs in the 6th, but Joe Thatcher came on to strike him out, and the Jolly Roger would hold no more wind this day. Martin Prado reached 5 times, with 4 hits, 4 runs and 3 driven in, while Paul Goldschmidt stroked a 3-run kablooey to stay tied for the NL home-run lead and advance his RBI margin (30 and 96).
- Locke walked 2 in the 1st, and Wil Nieves put the Snakes in front with a 2-out, 2-run double. He’s averaging 4.4 BB/9, worst among qualified NL starters.
- Anatomy of a 6-run inning: Two outs, then single, single, double, single, single, HR — “OK, let’s give him one more batter” — and one last single. Au revoir, M. Locke.
- Darned if the Bucs didn’t come back with 4 in their half, also starting after 2 outs & none on, with a disappearing act in the form of Pedro Alvarez’s 30th HR.
- Locke rocked a .226 BAbip through 19 starts, but it’s around .450 in his last 5 games.
Cardinals 4, @Cubs 0 — Joe Kelly blanked the Cubs for 6 innings, and Yadier Molina closed the scoring with a 2-run shot off Travis Wood, as St. Louis gained a game on Pittsburgh. Wood retired the first 9 Cards, but doubles by Matt Carpenter (his 41st) and Carlos Beltran built a Redbirds lead after Chicago left the bases full from 1 out in the 3rd. In 8 starts, Kelly is 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA.
- Carpenter leads the majors with 91 runs. He’s the first Cardinals 2B with 40+ doubles since Red Schoendienst, 1952.
- Seeming to miscount the outs, Starlin Castro relaxed after catching a pop in shallow left, and Jon Jay raced home with the 2nd run. That got Starlin yanked, but after the inning — too little, too late, in my book.
@Brewers 2, Reds 0 — In his first start this month, Yovani Gallardo stopped Cincinnati on 3 hits into the 7th, and Logan Schafer capped a 2-out rally with a 2-run double in the 4th, handing Mat Latos his first loss since the All-Star Break. The Reds’ best threat died with 2 on and Jay Bruce batting in the 4th, as trail runner Brandon Phillips was too forward in his actions.
@Rangers 15, Mariners 3 – Seattle led 2-0 early, but Texas scored 5 runs on 5 hits in their 2nd, then nailed up 10 more in their last two raps. Oliver Perez let in the two he inherited in the 7th, then was charged with 6 more in a death-by-pinprick 8th inning, where 7 runs scored before anyone hit more than a single. Rangers #9 hitters David Murphy and Craig Gentry combined to lead the attack with 3 hits and 5 RBI. Texas batted only eight times, but went 9 for 23 with RISP.
- Felix Hernandez fell to 12-19, 3.94 against Texas, in 38 career starts.
@Tigers 6, Royals 5 – Breathless. Detroit had blown a 3-0 lead and let two more slim edges slip away, facing the prospect of extra innings with their three good relievers gone. But Miguel Cabrera washed away all cares, leading off the bottom 9th with his 39th home run, a no-doubter towards the right-field line on a 3-1 pitch. It’s his first hit in 8 ABs off Aaron Crow, and his first game-ending hit in more than a year — but his 6th HR in the last 10 games, including three clutch shots in the 9th inning. Prince Fielder also had a big night, with a 2-out double for an early lead, and a solo in the 7th to regain the lead that got away when Salvador Perez homered off Drew Smyly.
Tigers catcher Brayan Pena and skipper Jim Leyland were both tossed for arguing a missed call in the 4th, when the Royals tied the game at 3. Alcides Escobar checked his swing on a pitch that bounced, and he clearly fouled it, but plate ump Mike Muchlinski thought it simply got past Pena, and a runner went from 1st to 3rd with no outs. Third-stringer Bryan Holaday was touched for 2 steals and a throwing error in the 8th, contributing to another tying run. But Jose Veras, after giving up 3 singles to start that frame, got 3 outs with the tying run on 3rd.
Eighteen Royals reached safely, and they got key hits to tie it in the 7th and 8th. But they had Doug Fister on the ropes all game without finding the knockout blow. Fister allowed 10 hits and 2 walks in the first 5 innings, but the Royals left men on base each time, 6 of them in scoring position. Overall, they went 4 for 20 with RISP.
- Miggy’s up in the 4th with the game tied, 2 outs and a man on 3rd. Are you pitching to him? Wade Davis did, and he got ahead, 1-and-2, but Cabrera doubled for the lead run.
- On a 3-1 count this year, Cabrera’s 7 for 11 with 2 HRs and 3 doubles, plus 16 walks.
- One fan’s outlook as the home 9th began: “Either Cabrera hits a homer, or we lose — but it feels like 50-50 that he’ll do it.”
Nationals 8, @Braves 7 (15 inn.) — For the 2nd time in 3 games, Rafael Soriano served up a crushing HR with 2 outs in the 9th, this one the second of the game by Jason Heyward. Atlanta rallied from 6-2 down, with HRs by Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman. Adam LaRoche hit the decisive HR in the 15th off Kris Medlen, and Dan Haren earned his first pro save since rookie ball.
But the major story was Stephen Strasburg losing all control and getting himself ejected in the 2nd inning. Strasburg seemed to nail Justin Upton on purpose after Heyward’s first HR (he crushed a misplaced 3-2 fastball in the 1st), and at some point warnings were issued. Leading 4-1 to start the home 2nd, Strasburg gave a 4-pitch walk, then loosed three insanely wild pitches in the next at-bat, two going behind Andrelton Simmons. Once Strasburg was dismissed, Tanner Roark stepped in and put up 4 zeroes on one hit, whiffing 6; his ERA is 0.00 in 10 innings, and if not for Soriano’s blown save, Roark would be 3-0 in 4 relief games.
@Orioles 8, Rockies 4 — Baltimore found the end zone in the 2nd, all but one unearned after Troy Tulowitzki’s error, and they went on to snap a 4-game losing streak and regain a little ground in the wild-card chase. Bud Norris earned an ugly win (13 runners in 5.2 IP), while relievers did the heavy lifting.
- For the 2nd straight night, Chris Davis batted 3rd and drew 2 walks. Adam Jones has singled after 3 of those 4 walks, twice driving in a run; he also singled after Davis doubled to start the big inning.
- This has to be the dumbest dive to 1st base of this season. “Hey, there’s *two* guys with metal spikes racing at me — I think I’ll put my face in their way!”
White Sox 8, @Twins 5 — The Andrew Albers spell was broken by a Paul Konerko groundout, plating the first run off our hero from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, in his 3rd MLB start. He found bigger trouble in the 4th, letting in 4 runs with 2 outs to wipe away a 3-1 lead. Still, after serving Dayan Viciedo’s 3-run HR, Albers got through the 7th, logging 10 outs from his last 10 batters, to become the first since 2005 to start a career with 3 straight games of 7+ innings.
- Chris Sale appreciated this one, and you will, too.
- Since May 31, Adam Dunn is hitting .304 with a .413 OBP and .546 SLG in 69 games.
A few from Friday
Dodgers 4, @Phillies 0 — A 2-run homer by Hanley Ramirez off Cliff Lee broke a scoreless tie in the 4th and propelled L.A. to a 9th straight win, behind Zack Greinke’s second straight scoreless outing. Paco Rodriguez and Ronald Belisario each had a big strikeout in the 8th, after Greinke left with 2 on and 1 out. Greinke has allowed 9 runs over his last 8 starts, averaging 7 IP, and the Dodgers have won 10 of his last 11 games.
- Not even his .363 BA or 1.063 OPS captures the tremendous impact of Hanley Ramirez per time at bat. His 3.00 Win Probability Added ranks 15th in MLB, despite just 219 plate appearances; everyone else in the top 22 has over 450 PAs. In the last 20 years, only 4 other players had a season to match Ramirez’s current ratio of WPA to PAs: Barry Bonds (2001-04), Mark McGwire (1998), Albert Pujols (2006), and Chris Davis this year. In high-leverage spots, Hanley’s hitting .500 with a 1.457 OPS (18 for 36, 4 HRs, 19 RBI, one strikeout).
- Paco Rodriguez’s 0.78 WHIP ranks 3rd among those with 40+ IP; Kenley Jansen is 5th at 0.83.
- Another way to feel the insanity of a 41-8 streak: L.A.’s current 71-50 record ties their best at this point in a season since 1985 (72-49). Their 30-42 start was their single worst since 1936.
- Philly’s new interim skipper, Ryne Sandberg, made his MLB playing debut with the Phillies not quite 32 years ago, pinch-running in the 9th inning and scoring the go-ahead run on hits by Larry Bowa and Pete Rose. But the Phils lost it in the bottom half.
- Six Hall of Fame players have managed their team to a pennant or playoff berth without also playing in that season: Bob Lemon, 1978 Yankees and ’81 Yankees (final month); Red Schoendienst, 1967-68 Cardinals; Yogi Berra, 1964 Yankees and ’73 Mets; Joe Cronin, 1946 Red Sox; Bill Terry, 1937 Giants; Hughie Jennings, 1908 Tigers. Only Lemon and Schoendienst won World Series titles.
Rockies 6, @Orioles 3 — Wilin Rosario’s 2-run drive off Wei-Yin Chen just cleared the wall to break a 2-all tie in the 7th, pushing the O’s towards a 4th straight loss, which dropped them 4 games out of a wild-card spot. Four different Rockies homered, making 10 HRs allowed during Baltimore’s 4-game skid, and 32 HRs in their last 20 games (8-12). Francisco Rodriguez served one up before leaving injured; he’s allowed 5 HRs in 10 Orioles games.
- A bags-full single by Adam Jones with 1 out in the 3rd nudged the Oriole lead to 2-0, but Manny Machado was stopped at 3rd, and the frame bore no more fruit. It wasn’t a bad decision, but the O’s would not get another man to 2nd base until Matt Wieters’s solo HR in the 9th.
- Baltimore’s next 5 series are against teams that figure in their playoff chances: home to Tampa and Oakland, then at Boston, New York and Cleveland.
- Two Rockies homered from the #9 spot in the order (Charlie Culberson and Charlie Blackmon), the second such game in club history and the 2nd in MLB’s last 4 seasons.
Royals 2, @Tigers 1 / Royals 3, @Tigers 0 — In the opener, Danny Duffy and friends held Detroit to 2 hits, and Miguel Cabrera grounded out to end their only 2-on threat. Eric Hosmer opened the 4th with a solo performance against a hanging curve, and new hire Emilio Bonifacio golfed a tight breaker for a soft double to notch his first Royals RBI and the eventual deciding run.
In the nightcap, it was another Hosmer homer that started the scoring, after a 2-out walk to Jamey Carroll, and a big game from James Shields that kept the Bengals at bay for 7 stanzas. Salvador Perez threw out Austin Jackson swiping 2nd, mooting Miggy’s 2-out double in the 1st.
- Prince Fielder had a big nothin’ — 0-7 on the day, 0-2 with RISP in the nightcap, including a pop to left with the tying runs in scoring position and 1 out in the 3rd.
- This year, Detroit has lost all 4 Verlander starts against K.C., despite his 2.60 ERA. They were 17-6 in his prior K.C. starts, and Verlander was 15-2.
- Billy Butler reached in 3 of 4 trips against JV and has a .507 OBP in that matchup (36 times on base in 71 trips).
- Greg Holland has pitched in all 7 Royals wins over Detroit this year (five by a one-run margin), allowing no runs with 5 saves and a victory. He’s given them just 3 runs in 22 IP over the last 3 years.
- Left for dead after skidding to the Break at 43-49, the Royals have gone 21-8 to get within 5 games of a wild-card spot. The hot stretch has come despite a .202 BA from their best hitter, Alex Gordon. The offense has been just as tepid as before the Break (3.97 R/G 1st half, 4.03 2nd half), but their 2.41 ERA and 9-1 one-run record have carried them.
@Rays 5, Blue Jays 4 — Jose Lobaton’s hit into the RF corner scored Yunel Escobar from 1st base, lifting the Rays to a 3rd straight win and second 5-4 walk-off in 3 days. Those #7-8 hitters combined for 5 times on base, 3 RBI and 2 triples, offsetting an 0-7 from their #3-4 men. The visitors’ 9th started with 2 hits off the still-shaky Fernando Rodney, but the middle of the order could not deliver a run. Slumping Jose Reyes had a chance to break the 4-all tie in the 8th, but he rapped into a 6-6-3 DP.
- I know it means nothing, but when Jose Bautista bobbles and drops the ball, why isn’t that an error allowing Lobaton to reach 3rd base, rather than a straight triple?
Mariners 3, @Rangers 1 — If both starting pitchers go 7 innings, and one guy gives up a run while the other doesn’t, what are the odds of the first guy getting the win? That’s what happened for Hisashi Iwakuma against Derek Holland. Kyle Seager turned the game around with a 2-run homer in the 8th — the first this year off Neal Cotts, who had allowed only 5 runs in 38.2 innings, and snapping Seager’s own 0-for-21 drought. Charlie Furbush got one huge out to keep that 2-1 lead through the 8th, retiring A.J. Pierzynski after Adrian Beltre had been passed to load the bases.
- It was the 7th no-XBH home game for Texas this year, matching their 20-year high in the current ballpark, with 21 home games remaining.
At first I was shocked to see Jurickson Profar at DH, batting .236 with 4 HRs. But with Nelson Cruz suspended, Texas is short on quality hitters. Here are the OPS+ marks for Rangers regulars (min. 50 games, in order of season PAs):
- 71, Andrus
- 144, Beltre
- 100, Rios (recent acquisition)
- 102, Kinsler
- 78, Murphy
- 102, Moreland
- 98, Pierzynski
- 95, Martin
- 99 Berkman (on the DL)
- 72, Profar
- 88, Gentry
@Brewers 7, Reds 6 — Cincinnati was 3 outs from a 6th straight win and a hold on 2nd place for the first time since June 20, but Jonathan Lucroy crushed a hanger from Aroldis Chapman, and gave the closer an MLB-high 4th walk-off loss. Lucroy had whiffed swinging in all 5 prior Chapman encounters; after taking a ball, he fouled off 5 in a row before connecting.
- Of the 6 walk-off events Chapman has suffered, this was the first with 2 strikes or with Chapman ahead in the count. On a 1-2 count, batters are 13 for 133 with 2 HRs and 94 strikeouts.
- No prior time at bat against Chapman had been settled after 7 or more pitches with fewer than 2 balls. (40 PAs of 7 pitches exactly, 67 PAs of 7 or more.)
- Jean Segura had 3 hits, with his 9th triple and 36th steal. He leads the NL in hits, leads all shortstops in total bases, and is 2nd in NL steals.
- Milwaukee rookies Scooter Gennett and Khris Davis each had 2 hits and a walk, and have combined for a .295 BA, .581 SLG, 23 runs and 22 RBI in 129 ABs.
- Chapman’s post-April ERA is 4.00.
@Cubs 7, Cardinals 0 — Jake Westbrook walked his first 3 batters, and they all came back to haunt him. St. Louis never got back in the game, collecting just 2 hits (both by Carlos Beltran) against Jake Arrieta and two relievers. They’re 7-7 against the Cubs this year, and have lost 15 of 22, going 6-12 against the NL’s other current playoff teams and 1-3 against Chicago.
- 2B Kolten Wong went 0-3 in his MLB debut. Their top pick in 2011 made quick work of the minors, hitting .301 in 280 games. At AAA Memphis this year (not a PCL paradise), Wong hit .303/.835 and was 20/21 in stolen bases.
- Westbrook’s ERA has shot from 2.95 to 4.35 with 4 straight beatings, 24 ER in 21.1 IP, and 15 walks vs. 10 Ks. He would be the first since 2009 with more walks (48) than strikeouts (42) in 100+ IP.
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