Ricky Nolasco hurls second shutout in three starts

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For the second time in two weeks, Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco has pitched a shutout against the Nationals. He hurled a four-hitter Sunday in Miami’s 8-0 victory.

Nolasco also shut out the Nationals on Aug. 28. He had just two shutouts in 173 career starts before doubling that total in his last three outings.

It’s likely that Nolasco could have been had by anyone wanting to take his salary last month. Prior to the Aug. 28 shutout, he was in the midst of another frustrating year, having gone 9-12 with a 5.07 ERA. Given that he’s due $11.5 million next year in the final season of his contract, the Marlins likely would have been happy to move him. It didn’t happen then, but it might this winter, especially if a continued strong finish helps facilitate such a move.

Still, it’s not hard to see why there wasn’t any interest last month. Nolasco used to look like an underachiever with his excellent strikeout rate and middling to poor ERAs. With his velocity and strikeout rate both down the last two years, now he just looks below average. At least, when he’s not facing the Nationals.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.