It was certainly a case of feast or famine for the Orioles in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader.
Rangers starter Colby Lewis gave up three straight homers to begin the bottom of the first, retired the next 18 hitters he faced and then surrendered two more homers in the seventh to leave down 6-0 versus Baltimore.
The end result: Lewis struck out a career-high 12 batters and allowed a career-high five homers. Those homers were the only hits he allowed.
Lewis became just the fifth pitcher in major league history to give up five homers and no other hits. Oakland’s Ted Lilly was the last, surrendering five homers in four innings against the Braves on June 11, 2003. Denny McLain (1971), Steve Stone (1974) and Charlie Hough (1989) were the others to manage it. No one has ever given up six homers and no other hits.
The 12 strikeouts was also by far the most for anyone in a game with five homers allowed. Hough struck out nine in that aforementioned start on June 24, 1989, which had been the previous high total. Curt Schilling, on June 28, 1997, was the last pitcher to strike out 12 and give up four homers.
Lewis also issued just one walk on the day. So, while his ERA jumped from 2.97 to 3.69, his WHIP actually dropped from 1.14 to 1.10.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.