Fowler's leap propels Rockies' big inning

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It was exactly the kind of move one might expect from a player who had a chance to play basketball at Harvard.
Fortunately, Dexter Fowler passed on that opportunity and took a $925,000 bonus to sign with the Rockies after being selected in the 14th round in 2004. On Monday, with the Phillies up 2-1 in the eighth, Fowler leapt over Chase Utley on a potential double-play ball, distracting the second baseman and causing a poor throw to second. The Phillies ended up with no outs on the play, and the Rockies went on to score three times and for a 4-2 lead.
In this case, it was probably more athleticism than smarts from Fowler that allowed him to avoid Utley, who had thrown himself into the baserunner’s path in an effort to field the ball. A collision seemed the likely result initially, but Fowler edged to the right and jumped over Utley’s back before sliding into second. Utley did get the throw away, but it wasn’t where Jimmy Rollins expected it and Rollins ended up being charged with an error after it rolled away.
Fowler had reached base on a walk versus Cliff Lee. He singled previously in the game. The rookie had to be disappointed because of the events of Sunday’s game, when he was removed in favor of Jason Giambi in the ninth despite already collecting two hits in the game. Giambi popped out against Brad Lidge with the tying run on, and the Rockies went on to lose by one.
The switch-hitting Fowler found himself on the bench frequently against righties down the stretch because of the play of Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez. However, he’s started every game of the NLDS with the Phillies throwing nothing but lefties and he’ll be in there again Tuesday against Cole Hamels, if the Rockies go on to win tonight. He should be locked in as the Rockies’ center fielder next year, with Gonzalez presumably playing regularly in left or right.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.