As a result of playing in American League organizations throughout his career, up until last year, Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery never took a plate appearance in the minor leagues. He pitched one inter-league game against the Padres in 2015, taking three PA, then joined the Cubs last July in a trade. He started in the bullpen, but eventually moved to the rotation for five starts before going back to the ‘pen. He took 11 plate appearances. And this season, he took 16 trips to the plate. For those of you counting at home, that’s 30 total plate appearances for Montgomery, who began his professional career in 2008.
Despite the relative lack of experience in the batter’s box, Montgomery still nailed his first career home run in the fifth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Braves. Ahead in the count 2-0, Montgomery absolutely crushed a 79 MPH knuckleball from R.A. Dickey to the Chop House deck in right field at Sun Trust Park, boosting the Cubs’ lead to 2-0.
On the pitching side of things, Montgomery held the Braves to one run on two hits and a walk with five strikeouts over six innings. The Cubs went on to win 8-2, remaining undefeated since the All-Star break.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has been out since July 24 with a lower back strain. He’s slated to throw a three-inning simulated game in Pittsburgh on Monday, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Plunkett adds that if all goes well, the earliest Kershaw could return is August 31 against the Diamondbacks, but September 1 is more likely against the Padres.
Kershaw, 29, hit the disabled list on a pace to win his fourth Cy Young Award. He’s 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers have managed just fine without Kershaw. The club is 19-4 since July 24. At 87-35, the Dodgers own baseball’s best record, well ahead of the second-best Astros at 76-48.
Last week, Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler was ejected from a game against the Rangers after giving home plate umpire Angel Hernandez a look after a pitch was thrown outside for a ball. Kinsler was apparently unhappy with calls Hernandez had made earlier. Manager Brad Ausmus, too, was ejected.
After the game, Kinsler said that Hernandez “needs to find another job.” He added, “…he needs to stop ruining baseball games.”
Kinsler was fined by Major League Baseball for his remarks, Mlive’s Evan Woodbery reports. According to Ausmus, the fine levied on Kinsler was the largest one he’s seen in nearly 25 years in baseball. Kinsler said, “I said what I felt and what I thought. If they take offense to that, then that’s their problem.” Ausmus said, “To single out one player as a union is completely uncalled for.”
As Ashley noted on Saturday, the umpires wore white wristbands to protest “escalating attacks on umpires.” The umpires agreed to drop their protest on Sunday after commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to meet with the umpire union’s governing board, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports.