The National League’s Cy Young favorites both added to their cases Saturday, with the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez beating the Brewers for win No. 20 of the season and the Mets’ R.A. Dickey going eight strong to defeat Miami for his 19th victory.
Gonzalez held the Brewers to two runs — both unearned — over seven innings in a 10-4 rout. The runs came after a Bryce Harper error in the sixth. Gonzalez allowed just three hits and walked one in lowering his ERA to 2.84.
Dickey took a shutout into the ninth, only to get charged with two runs after Jon Rauch gave up a three-run homer to John Buck. That took Dickey’s ERA from 2.58 to 2.66, but he still holds the NL lead over Clayton Kershaw (2.70) and Kyle Lohse (2.71).
Dickey was also robbed of a three-run double or triple on a terrific play from Bryan Petersen in the sixth. You can watch the video here. It would have been Dickey’s first extra-base hit since 2010 and just the third of his career.
That Dickey has such a big edge in innings pitched over Gonzalez — 220 to 193 1/3 at the moment — should be a determining factor in the Cy Young race. However, if Dickey ends up stuck on 19 wins and Gonzalez finishes as the NL’s only pitcher with 20, it’s possible the left-hander will take home the hardware.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.