Since the Indians began their record-setting 22-game win streak on Aug. 24, the best team in the National League began a puzzling swoon.
The Dodgers lost 11 straight, and 17 of 18, before finally getting on track as ace Clayton Kershaw returned to the mound to end the losing skid on Tuesday. That Tuesday victory has been followed by two more, including Friday’s 7-0 win over the Nationals
The Dodgers (95-52) were once considered challengers to the MLB record of 116 wins in a season, but are still on pace to win more than 100 games. Alex Wood went six strong for the Dodgers, striking out eight Nationals batters to improve his record to 15-3. The Dodgers now have a magic number of 6 to clinch the National League West and gained a game on the team chasing them for the NL’s top seed.
The Dodgers have a six-game lead over the Nationals (89-58) in the NL. The Dodgers are also 4 1/2 games clear of the Indians for the best record in baseball after the Tribe saw their 22-game win streak come to an end with Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Royals.
The Indians’ lineup has not only been ridiculous as of late, but it has been great all season. Francisco Lindor has 30 home runs; Jay Bruce has been a revelation since he was acquired from the Mets; and Jose Ramirez is about as much of an under-the-radar of an MVP candidate that baseball has ever seen.
For the Dodgers, Wood showed Friday why he is going to be pivotal to a potential World Series run. Adding the former Georgia Bulldog to Clayton Kershaw and trade-deadline acquisition Yu Darvish give the Dodgers a deep playoff rotation.
The Dodgers and Indians had very different days Friday, but are still on the same path to converge in late October.
Studs of the Night
Reds shortstop Zack Cozart added to his career year Friday with two more home runs on a 2-for-5 night in a 4-2 win over the Pirates. Cozart now has 22 homers on the season and is hitting a career-best .302.
No one out-pitched Athletics starter Daniel Mengden on Friday. Acquired from the Astros for Scott Kazmir in 2015, the Texas A&M alumnus tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts in a 4-0 win over the Phillies. He struck out seven without a walk in just his third start of the season.
Dud of the Night
Carlos Martinez was having a great day until John Lackey went ballistic on the home plate umpire. Unfortunately for Martinez, that tirade woke up the Cubs’ bats and a seven-run sixth inning brought Martinez’s day to an end. He finished with 5 1/3 innings, with six hits, three walks and seven earned runs allowed.
Brewers starter Jeremy Jeffress owes Eric Sogard a big steak after the infielder bailed him out with two outs in the second inning of Milwaukee’s 10-2 win over the Marlins.
Sogard? So good. pic.twitter.com/IEhlnzIKx7
— MLB (@MLB) September 16, 2017
Don’t you ever forget that Kevin Kiermaier is the best defensive center fielder in the game. Just ask Jackie Bradley Jr., who was robbed of extra bases in Boston’s 13-6 win over the Rays that took 15 innings.
Is that Superman? Nope, just @KKiermaier39.
— #Statcast (@statcast) September 16, 2017
Rangers (72-75) at Angels (75-72) 9:07 p.m. ET — Time is running out for the Rangers and the Angels to catch the Twins or the Yankees for a wild-card spot and the two teams play each other again Saturday. It’s not a bad pitching matchup either. Cole Hamels (10-3, 4.05 ERA) takes on the best rookie pitcher you have never heard of in Parker Bridwell (7-2, 3.94 ERA).