What we're watching: Kershaw to duel Haren

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– The pitching matchup of the night pits Clayton Kershaw against Dan Haren as the Dodgers take on the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Kershaw currently ranks seventh in the NL in ERA, two spots behind Haren. The two are going in opposite directions, though. Kershaw has a 1.55 ERA since the beginning of June and a 1.10 ERA since the beginning of July. Haren, who entered the All-Star break as the major league leader in ERA, has given up 16 earned runs in his last four starts. He’s 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this year, while Kershaw has yet to face the Diamondbacks.
– The Phillies and Braves are both coming off series sweeps as they face off in Atlanta tonight. Philadelphia just took three straight from the Cubs. Atlanta has won five straight against the Dodgers and the previously surging Nationals. Tonight’s game will feature two rather unlucky starters, at least as far as wins and losses go. Joe Blanton has allowed three runs or fewer in 12 of his last 13 starts, yet he’s just 7-6 for the season. Jair Jurrjens is 9-8 with a 3.01 ERA. The Braves have scored a total of 10 runs in his losses.
Game of the Night
Boston vs. Texas – The AL wild card leaders will begin a three-game series in Texas tonight. The Red Sox, who are a half-game out in front, will send Jon Lester to the mound, while the Rangers counter with Kevin Millwood. Both starters are 9-7 with ERAs in the mid-3.00s, though Lester has been the far better pitcher lately. Millwood has just one win in his last seven starts. However, that did come against the Red Sox back on July 20. The Rangers will have Ian Kinsler back at second base tonight after he missed 16 days with a strained hamstring,

Mets beat Phillies to clinch wild card tie

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 30: Jose Reyes #7 and Curtis Granderson #3 of the New York Mets celebrate their win against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 30, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Mets defeated the Phillies 5-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.

Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.

The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.

Carlos Rodon strikes out 10 consecutive batters

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Carlos Rodon #55 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning on September 30, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.

During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.

Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.

Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: