Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw usually helps his own cause in the way of striking out lots of hitters and rarely putting them on base with walks. It’s why he’s a two-time Cy Young award winner and has led the league in ERA in each of the last three seasons. But he helped his own cause in a spectacular way in Sunday’s game against the Brewers.
The Dodgers were up 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Brewers were threatening with Rickie Weeks on third base and one out. After Jean Segura worked a 1-1 count, the Brewers decided to try the squeeze play. Segura jabbed his bat at the ball, but sent it up in the air a few feet in front of the plate. Kershaw dashed off of the mound and dove face-first towards the plate, catching the ball just before it could hit the ground. Kershaw then got to his feet and lobbed the ball to Juan Uribe at third base to complete the inning-ending double play.
Quite the play. Kershaw finished the afternoon with his 14th win, limiting the Brewers to one run on six hits and a pair of walks while striking out six over eight innings. He now has a 1.78 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, and a 163/19 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.