The Phillies’ Cliff Lee, already with a major league-leading five shutouts, was denied a shot at No. 6 on Tuesday. Having thrown 124 pitches, he was removed after eight scoreless innings in what turned out to be a 2-1 win over the Dodgers.
Ryan Madson closed it out in the ninth, but not before giving up an RBI single to Casey Blake.
At least Lee did have more than the win to celebrate: he hit his second homer of the season off Ted Lilly.
Lee could have become the first pitcher to throw six shutouts in a season since Randy Johnson finished with that many in a 1998 campaign split between Seattle and Houston. Besides Johnson, the last pitcher to record more than five shutouts in a season was Tim Belcher, who had eight for the Dodgers in 1989.
Lee’s homer was his second in five starts. He went 107 career at-bats without one before homering for the first time against the Braves on July 9. He’s the first Phillies pitcher since Randy Wolf in 2004 to hit multiple homers in the same year.
Despite his remarkable success when it comes to shutouts, Lee remains a big long shot in the NL Cy Young competition. He has just seven wins that weren’t shutouts, and he’s 12-7 with a 2.83 ERA for the season. His ERA ranks seventh in the NL and third on his own team behind Roy Halladay’s 2.51 mark and Cole Hamels’ 2.53.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.