Clayton Kershaw had a long night at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, despite the fact that he pitched only five innings, and fired only 64 pitches during those five.
What made this a long evening for Los Angeles’ perennial Cy Young contender was the weather. The game was delayed on two separate occasions, and the two delays combined for one hour of idleness for the two teams. The first delay was a quick little stoppage, just under 15 minutes, but the second lasted nearly 50 minutes. Both of these delays occurred just when Clayton Kershaw was entering the type of groove that Kershaw normally enters.
As a matter of fact, Kershaw had retired the first 12 batters he faced, and so he went into the clubhouse following the rain delay that followed the fourth inning with a perfect game intact. Normally, two rain delays would result in the end of the day for the starter, especially one coming back from a long absence. But the Dodgers have to make sure that their ace is ready for the playoffs following his rare stint on the DL, so he went out there for the fifth inning. He didn’t keep the perfect game—Justin Turner’s error immediately after the second delay put the kibosh on that, and Kershaw allowed a single to the next batter to end the no-hit drama. However, he did end his outing on a solid note, as he picked up two strikeouts to end a scoring threat for the Yankees. It also ended his evening.
As it turned out, that would be as close as the Yankees would get to scoring a run. The Dodgers bullpen gave up two more hits for the rest of the evening, and the four relievers who entered the game combined for nine strikeouts. As well as the Dodgers were pitching, the Yankees were matching them on the other side, until the ninth inning, when the Yankees finally blinked. Thanks to an error and a stolen base, Corey Seager reached scoring position. Turner was able to bring him home by looping the seventh pitch of his at-bat into left field for a double.
The Yankees made another error, and this ended up being the nail in the coffin. Dellin Betances fielded a short chopper from Yasmani Grandal, and when he went home to cut down a run he skied the throw.
That made it 2-0, and that’s how it ended. The Dodgers are now inching closer and closer to a postseason berth, and Kershaw looks like Kershaw again.
Games that end 1-0 are fairly common. It’s baseball, after all—you’re going to get a pitcher’s duel every now and then. However, two of the least likely candidates to combine for a 1-0 game in the 2016 season did so last night, and it happened in the ongoing AL East soap opera. The Orioles edged the Red Sox by one run, and this home run by Mark Trumbo off of Rick Porcello ended up being the decisive measure.
Baltimore’s victory pulled the Orioles to within one game of the Red Sox at the top of the division, and things aren’t going to get much easier for Boston as they head into a four-game series with the Yankees this weekend. There’s really no rest for the weary in this division.
The Blue Jays picked a pretty bad time to take a series loss, and against a pretty bad team. The Rays picked up a comfortable 8-1 win in Toronto, and as usual, their road to victory came via the long ball. Both Kevin Kiermaier and Corey Dickerson went deep in the Rogers Centre on Wednesday, and Dickerson’s homer was a milestone for the Rays.
That was the 200th homer that Tampa has hit this season, a franchise record. Not much has gone right for the Rays this season, but at least this particular team will have that to hang its hat on as this season comes to a close.
Speaking of dingers, Brian Dozier has hit a whole, heaping bunch of them this year. He went into this game hitting .280/.352/.577 with a TAv of .316. He went 2-for-4 at the plate against the Tigers, and one of those two hits included his 41st homer of the season—and his 33rd in his last 73 games.
The homer helped the Twins stay in the game with the AL Wild Card contenders, but Detroit eventually pulled away. The Tigers still have Miguel Cabrera, and Miguel Cabrera is still very, very good at this whole “hitting the baseball” thing. He’s been hitting .309/.385/.545 with a TAv of .311, and his home run was what put Detroit ahead for good in this one.
Defensive Play of the Day
My favorite baseball video game from the 1990s was Ken Griffey Jr.’s Slugfest for the Nintendo 64. I eventually got so good against the CPU in that game that I’d let it hit grounders into right field to see if I could use my right fielder to throw the runner out. It rarely happened, but it was always a treat when I managed to pull it off. Last night, Marcell Ozuna lived out this childhood dream of mine when he charged a grounder in shallow right field and threw out Julio Teheran at first base.
What to Watch on Thursday
Both the Giants and Cardinals have been stumbling toward the finish line of this season. The Cardinals are 15-15 in their past 30, while the Giants are 11-19 in that same span. More recently, the Cardinals got blanked 7-0 by the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon, while the Giants managed to get swept by the Padres. The Giants have now lost six straight games to San Diego after the All-Star break, and this is after they went 9-0 against the Padres before the break.
Despite their struggles, both of these teams are still firmly entrenched in the postseason race, and now they’ll be meeting in San Francisco for an incredibly crucial four-game series. With the way that these teams have been playing down the stretch, we’ll probably see a split where both teams lose ground on whichever NL teams stay hot this weekend. However, a decisive series victory could end up being huge in the NL Wild Card race. Plus, Thursday’s pitching matchup is an extremely enticing one—Adam Wainwright (4.02 DRA, 102 cFIP) vs. Johnny Cueto (3.45 DRA, 90 cFIP). One of these teams has to win, so you may as well stay up late to see who starts this crucial series off on the right foot.
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