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June 14, 2017

What You Need to Know

Two Drubbings, 12 Innings, and a Meltdown Avoided

by Martin Alonso


The Tuesday Takeaway

Jon Lester picked up his 150th career win last night, tying him with Dizzy Dean, Jered Weaver, and Rube Benton on the all-time list. Among the 213 pitchers with 150 or more career victories, Lester ranks 20th in winning percentage at .630. The only pitchers with a higher winning percentage to begin their careers after 1980 are Pedro Martinez, Roy Halladay, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Dwight Gooden.

Making use of his entire repertoire, Lester pitched seven solid innings, allowing only six men to reach base with one earned run, and striking out 10 batters. His curveball was his most effective pitch of the night, throwing it 24 times while getting hitters to whiff seven times.

The Cubs' offense also did its job, coming alive with five home runs. Anthony Rizzo—batting leadoff for the first time since a single plate appearance with the Padres in 2011—started the ordeal by hitting the second pitch of his at-bat 462 feet to dead center.

But no hit was bigger than Ian Happ’s second-inning grand slam, which gave the visitors a commanding 6-1 lead. Zach Wheeler threw a two-seam fastball up and away, which Happ punished by sending it out toward left-center.

The final score was 14-3 in favor of the Cubs, pulling them to .500 and one game behind the Brewers.

Quick Hits

The Cubs were not the only team to flex their muscles Tuesday night. Max Kepler, Brian Dozier, and Eddie Rosario of the Twins combined to hit five home runs and drive in nine runners to take down the Mariners in what can only be called a good old-fashioned drubbing. The Twins improved to 33-28, maintaining the their slim lead atop the AL Central.

Rosario's three homers came out of the last spot in the batting order, which hasn't happened very often:


***

Helping the Twins out were the Dodgers, who also managed to help themselves to the NL West lead. Despite managing to score two runs against Clayton Kershaw, and sending in Andrew Miller to hold the Dodgers off, it wasn’t enough for the Indians. Los Angeles managed to mash their way to a five-run lead by the top of the ninth. Rookie Cody Bellinger is really, really good.

Which was fortunate given that the bullpen seemingly imploded. Kenley Jansen thought he would have the night off until Chris Hatcher ran into some trouble. A single and a passed ball brought Daniel Robertson to the plate, who hit the fifth pitch he saw for a home run. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts quickly made the call to the pen and Jansen closed the door by striking out Jason Kipnis for his 12th save of the season.

***

Coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Braves, the Nationals were looking to halt a four-game skid while still holding a very comfortable lead in the NL East. In came Ryan Zimmerman, who appears to have found the fountain of youth. Starting the day at 17 home runs, Zimmerman managed to add two more to his season tally, leading the NL in that category and tying Vladimir Guerrero for the franchise home run record.

Defensive Play of the Day

In Boston, Maikel Franco came up to the plate in a 3-3 tie and nearly hit a single to center field that would have probably sent Ty Kelly to third with no one out. Dustin Pedroia, however, had other plans, and teamed up with Xander Bogaerts to force a double play and keep the game tied.

What to watch on Wednesday

In a Wednesday matinee, Daniel Gossett will make his major-league debut for the Athletics as they try to split the series against the Marlins, who will counter with Edinson Volquez (3-7, 3.41 ERA). First pitch is at 12:10 pm ET.

Later in the day, coming off a 20-run romp, Ervin Santana (8-3, 2.20 ERA) will look to continue his amazing season by going up against Sam Gaviglio (2-1, 2.79 ERA). Game starts at 8:10 pm ET.

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