The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw furthered his Cy Young case on Sunday by allowing two runs over 7 1/3 innings and beating the Padres in his final start of the year.
Kershaw tied Ian Kennedy, who made his last start Saturday, for the NL lead with 21 wins.
Justin Verlander has 24 wins in the AL, so this is the first year since 2005 that at least three starters have won 21 games.
Already the NL leader in ERA and strikeouts, Kershaw virtually clinched the pitching Triple Crown today. He ends the year with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. Roy Halladay also started today and pitched six scoreless innings, lowering his ERA from 2.41 to 2.35. Cliff Lee, who has a 2.38 ERA going into his start against the Braves on Monday, would have to pitch at least 10 2/3 scoreless innings or strike out at least 17 batters to deny Kershaw titles in either category. While a 17-strikeout game for Lee wouldn’t be an impossible under normal circumstances, there’s no way he’s getting there while on a pitch count in his final start before the NLDS.
That pitching Triple Crown figures to notch Kershaw the Cy Young Award, whether it’s truly deserved or not. There are strong cases for Halladay and Lee as well, especially since both pitch in a better ballpark for hitters, but even after digging into the deeper stats, Kershaw still fares quite well.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.