Ryan Dempster continues to do wonders for his trade value. In his second start back after missing three weeks with a strained right lat muscle, Dempster tossed six shutout innings this afternoon as part of a 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. He now has a career-high 33-inning scoreless streak dating back to May 30 against the Padres.
Dempster’s scoreless streak is the longest in the majors this season, topping R.A. Dickey’s 32 2/3 inning streak from May 22-June 13. It’s also the longest scoreless streak by any Cubs’ pitcher since Ken Holtzman had a 33-inning scoreless streak of his own back in 1969.
Dempster, an impending free agent, currently leads the majors with a 1.86 ERA and has a solid 75/25 K/BB ratio across 92 innings. The 35-year-old has earned ten-and-five rights, so he has the ability to block any trade, but he has indicated that he’s willing to accept a deal in the right situation. The Dodgers have been mentioned frequently as a potential suitor.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.