20 in Row for Tribe; Dodgers Win One; Phillies Win-then have to Win Again

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, Sept. 13.

At last the Dodgers won a game  their 2nd win in 18 tries while the Indians took their 20th in a row.  In the night’s most bizarre finish I tuned out of the Phillies-Marlins game assuming the Phillies had won 8-7 on a walkoff in the 9th.  But a rare successful challenge led to 6 more innings of baseball with the Phillies winning 9-8 in 15 innings.

The Indians wrapped up their  20th win in a row early in the evening, matching a record held by the 2002 Oakland A’s.  While that streak didn’t help Oakland get anywhere the Indians have all but wrapped up the AL Central division following Corey Kluber’s 5-hit shutout. Francisco Lindor hit a leadoff home run in the last of the first and that was that as Kluber won his 16th.    This afternoon the Tribe tries to match the 1935 Cubs who won 21 in a row.  That team lost the World Series in 6 to the Tigers. In what will be a Noon start the Indians send Mike Clevinger to the hill against the Tigers’ Buck Farmer.

Kluber was in high school when the 2002 A’s won their 20 games in a row.  Their streak reached 20 on a pinch-hit walk-off home run by Scott Hatteberg who I was privileged to broadcast when he was the catcher for the 1993 New Britain Red Sox. His home run was the Sports Center moment for the 2002 A’s. Kluber started the last game the Indians lost-back on August 23. Since then his staff are 18-0 with an insane 1.71 ERA. 7 of the 20 wins have been on shutouts, of which the Tribe has 19 during 2017. This is far from the Year of the Pitcher, 1968 when last the Indians had 19 shutouts to their name. Lindor’s 30th home run, hit at age 23 puts him in rare company.  In 1936 Hal Trosky hit 42 home runs at age 23.  Two years before he had hit 34 at age 21. Much later, in 1995 Manny Ramirez hit 31 blasts as an Indian when he was 23.  Nobody else in an Indians’ uniform has managed 30 home runs at age 23 or younger.

On the other coast Clayton Kershaw does what the best pitcher on the planet is supposed to do.  He broke up the Dodgers’ streak of 11 losses and 16 lost in 17 played.  He did it leading his team to a 5-3 win over the Giants in San Francisco. He allowed 2 runs, 1 earned in 6 innings and doubled as part of a 4-run 4th.  To start the inning, aging Chase Utley launched an enormous home run.  After Kershaw’s double Yasiel Puig all but cinched the game with a two-run double. Kershaw put up his 17th win with the help of Kenley Jansen dodging a bases-loaded mess in the 9th. After 3 singles Jansen struck out Buster Posey and Nick Hundley (no easy job) to seal the deal.  The Dodgers are now 21–3 when Kershaw takes the hill, and are now definitely in the postseason.

Easily, the game of the night took place in Philadelphia.  The Marlins had every  chance to win, including an 8-7 lead in the 10th which they couldn’t hold.in the 15th the Phillies got 1 in their half, driven in by a Nick Williams double for a 9-8 win that ended after Midnight Eastern Time.  But in a sane world it would have ended 6 innings earlier.  With the score 7-7 in the 9th the Phillies scored for what should have been a clear win.  Somehow the Marlins challenged the outcome and got the chance to lose the game 6 innings later. The Marlins led this game 7-2 but their bull pen wasn’t up to the task. With the game 7-3 the Phillies notched 3 runs off Dustin McGowan and Drew Steckenrider. Hyun Soo Kim singled to tie it an inning later. That should have been a 2-run single but after a lengthy and pointless review Cesar Hernandez was ruled out at the plate. Ryan Barraclough (BearClaw) struck out Odubal Herrera sending the game into extra innings. Marcel Ozuna launched his 33rd home run in the 10th but the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins hit a blast of his own to tie the game again. Hoskins, the Phillies’ answer to Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge now has 16 home runs in 32 games. Even Judge and Sanchez didn’t manage that many home runs in 40 games. The Phillies’ rookie starter Nick Pivetta gave up all 7 Marlins’ runs before leaving in the 6th. That makes 5 times he’s given  up 6 or more earned runs in a start.

While both the AA and AAA Yankees lost the first games of their respective LCS, the game of the night was game 1 of the South Atlantic League LCS.  It took 13 innings for the Greenville Drive (Red Sox) to best the Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox) 8-7. Each team had 4 runs on the board by the end of the 4th. The Drive put 2 across in the 8th to make it 6-5 but the K-Dators tied it in their half of the 8th.  The visitors then scored 2 in the 13th which they needed because the home team scored one in their half coming up just short. The Drive’s Bobby Dalbec broke the 6-6 tie with a double bringhing home Roldani Baldwin. Dalbec scored what would be the game winner after losing pitcher Andre Davis misplayed a grounder by the Drive’s Tyler  Hill.  Dalbec redeemed 4 early strikeouts by getting 2 hits in his last 3 tries.  For the Intimidators, Mitch Roman singled a run home in the last of the 13th but it wasn’t enough. Greenville’s Santiago Espinal registered 5 hits on the night and scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch. The Drive’s Algenis Martinez, who hadn’t pitched in the postseason managed 3 scoreless innings and got the win. Jake Burger, Alex Call and Mitch Roman got 3 hits each in a losing cause. They were the 5, 6 and 7 hitters in the order and 9 of the 11 Kannapolis hits belonged to those 3 batters. Should Greenville win the best 3 of 5 series they will win their first South Atlantic League title.  The Intimidators have just one league title which they claimed in 2005.  In that postseason they took a 21-inning win over the Charleston RiverDogs en route to the league title.

While all the minor league playoff games will happen under the lights, a number of MLB games will be played in the afternoon, with the earliest being the Tigers and Indians meeting in Cleveland.  If the Tribe wins it will be 21 in a row, matching the 1935 Cubs’ record. The contest starts at Noon and you can see it if you get the MLB Network. This network is far from ESPN, which is a guarantee in almost any hotel or motel in the country.  It takes a thorough search but it’s worth the effort if in fact your provider has the MLB Network. The Indians’ Mike Clevenger has gone 6 scoreless innings his last 3 times out and hasn’t given up a run since August 21. The Yankees and Rays finish their series at Citi Field in Queens, a switch made necessary by Hurricane Irma. The series is even at a game apiece.  In today’s 1:10 PM start the Yankees send Jaime Garcia  against the Rays’ Chris Archer. The white Sox and Royals play a second consecutive afternoon game in Kansas City. Both teams throw rookie pitchers-Lucas Giolito for the White sox, Eric Skoglund for the Royals. Skoglund was their third draft pick in 2014. His ERA approaches 11 in what major league action he has seen.  The White Sox got Giolito and 2 others from Washington in the Adam Eaton trade. (Adam Who?) Giolito was ejected from his last start.  The rest of the slate takes place at night. The Braves’ rookie Luis Gohara faces Max Scherzer.  Every time Max takes the hill you wonder if he’s about to fire his third no-hitter. The Padres can’t do much worse than they did last night in Minnesota.  The Twins launched home runs in each of the first 7 innings en route to a 16-0 demolition.  No team had hit homers in each of the first 7 innings, though once on Sept. 4, 1999 home runs were hit in 7 consecutive innings by the Reds, from the 2nd to the 8th in a 22-3 bludgeoning of the Phillies. In that amazing game the Reds scored 9 in the 5th and 6 in the 8th.  Tonight Dinelson Lamet, who recently bested Clayton Kershaw will try his luck against the Twins. In the late games, Houston faces the Angels while the Dodgers and Giants meet in San Francisco. In that game Yu Darvish tries to look like the ace the Dodgers thought they were getting from Texas.

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