Hanley Ramirez

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Chris Sale records his 300th strikeout this season

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale recorded his 300th strikeout of the 2017 season on Wednesday night against the Orioles. The momentous occasion occurred with two outs in the eighth inning. Facing Ryan Flaherty, Sale threw a slider that caught the strike zone low and inside for called strike three.

Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strikeout 300-plus batters in a season in the last 15 years. Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002, and Johnson also did it in 2001 and 2000. Pedro Martinez had been the only other Red Sox pitcher to have a 300-strikeout season.

Through eight scoreless innings, Sale limited the Orioles to four hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. The Red Sox offense gave him plenty of run support. Mookie Betts and Devin Marrero each hit two-run home runs in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the sixth and Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double of his own in the eighth to make it 8-0.

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Dodgers 1, Padres 0: Look, the Dodgers did just fine without Clayton Kershaw. They went 23-10 in his absence, matching last year’s 91-win total and garnishing their first-place status in the NL West with a seven-game win streak. Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Yu Darvish and Hyun-Jin Ryu rounded out a mostly-healthy, mostly-dominant rotation that managed to maintain its fifth-best ranking across both leagues, only slightly tempered by a five-game losing streak at the end of August.

With Clayton Kershaw, however, the Dodgers are a different beast altogether. The lefty returned from a 40-day on the disabled list with his 16th win of the season, expending 70 pitches over seven innings of two-hit, seven-strikeout ball. Chase Utley provided the solitary RBI single of the evening, allowing the Dodgers to snap their skid and improve to a full 16 games above the second-place Diamondbacks. Heaven help the contender slated to face this pitching staff come October.

Cubs 2, Braves 0: Speaking of shutdown performances, John Lackey did his best Clayton Kershaw impression during the Cubs’ series opener on Friday afternoon. He wielded seven scoreless frames against the Braves, striking out five of 24 batters and allowing three runs in his best performance of the season. It’s a refreshing change of pace for the right-hander, who entered Friday with a 4.98 ERA and hasn’t given up fewer than five runs in an outing since August 16.

Balancing out the highlight reel? One Kyle Schwarber infield single, which inspired one of Javier Baez‘s incredible sprints in a 6.73-second dash from second base to home plate.

Red Sox 4, Yankees 1: Doug Fister and Sonny Gray matched wits — er, pitches — on Friday night, duking it out in the series opener of their final matchup of the regular season. Each hurler went seven strong, but Fister emerged a clear victor after holding the Yankees to one run and four hits, while Gray took his ninth loss of the year after issuing three home runs to Eduardo Nunez, Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez. Still, with as evenly matched as the rivals appear to be this season, there’s no reason to think the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka won’t return on Saturday to settle the score.

Reds 7, Pirates 3: First-inning back-to-back RBI doubles from Joey Votto and Adam Duvall supplied all the momentum the Reds needed on Friday, bringing them to an even 5-5 record in their last 10 games. The same couldn’t be said for the Pirates, who dropped to a season-worst nine games below .500 after a shaky five-run performance from Gerrit Cole.

Orioles 1, Blue Jays 0 (13 innings): Depending on the angle you choose, it takes a lot of skill and/or a lot of missed opportunities to shut out a team for 12 straight innings while also getting shut out. Luckily for the Orioles, they found the Blue Jays’ moment of weakness in the 13th inning, using Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop to engineer the first and only run of the four-hour, 27-minute marathon.

Schoop’s late-game heroics notwithstanding, it was Steve Pearce who took home the award for the crowd-pleasing play of the night:

Phillies 2, Marlins 1: When your team is 15 games behind the division lead, six games behind the nearest wild card spot and two below .500, you have to take your excitement where you can find it. For the Marlins, that excitement took the form of rookie left-hander Dillon Peters, who tied two impressive franchise records after striking out eight of 27 batters in seven scoreless innings during his Major League debut. The win still went to the Phillies, however, who utilized Andres Blanco‘s RBI groundout to grab the go-ahead run in the ninth.

Indians 3, Tigers 2 (Game 1): The Indians struck first during Friday’s doubleheader, vaulting over the Tigers with seven strong innings from Carlos Carrasco and a game-winning RBI single from Francisco Lindor in the ninth. The real kicker, however, came in Game 2…

Indians 10, Tigers 0 (Game 2): …when Cleveland’s offense joined forces for a 10-run spread in the first six innings, supplemented by six shutout frames from Mike Clevinger and a dominant run by the bullpen to preserve the shutout. Not only did it mark the Indians’ ninth straight win, tying a season-high streak, but it was their second doubleheader in three days following a two-game sweep of the Yankees on Wednesday.

Rangers 10, Angels 9: No lead is safe in the AL wild card race these days. The Angels discovered that the hard way on Friday, losing a one-run squeaker after Carlos Gomez scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning. The Rangers still trail the Angels by 1.5 games in the wild card standings, but look poised for a comeback after taking three of their last five games this week.

Mariners 3, Athletics 2: While we’re on the topic of wild card contenders, the Mariners kept themselves in the running after a solid debut from Mike Leake, who joined the team in a swap with the Cardinals prior to Thursday’s deadline. Leake stayed just ahead of opposing starter Sean Manaea, scattering two runs, a walk and seven strikeouts over seven innings as the Mariners cooked up a one-run lead with Kyle Seager‘s go-ahead sacrifice double play in the third. The win positioned the Mariners a mere 3.5 games back of the second wild card spot, but it won’t be an easy road to get there: entering Saturday, Orioles, Angels, Rays, Rangers and Royals are still hovering within four games of playoff contention.

Rays 3, White Sox 1: Logan Morrison generated runs for both teams on Friday, collecting his 34th home run of the season with a 407-foot blast in the first inning, allowing Kevan Smith to score on his throwing error, and taking back the lead with an RBI single in the third. From the third inning on, the Rays’ Blake Snell had everything under control, combining with the bullpen for seven consecutive scoreless innings and returning the club to .500 with their 68th win of the year.

Brewers 1, Nationals 0: Ryan Braun‘s frustrations reached a boiling point during the fourth inning of the Brewers’ series opener, feeding into a confrontation with home plate ump Mark Ripperger that led to the sixth ejection of his career.

Manager Craig Counsell backed Braun’s choice to argue balls and strikes, telling reporters, “He’s fighting and trying to get the right pitches called on him. That’s all he’s doing — he’s fighting for it.” This time, at least, it didn’t seem to hamper the club’s efforts on the field, and Jimmy Nelson drove Milwaukee to their third straight win following his career-best 11-strikeout performance.

Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 5: How’s this for dominant: Taijuan Walker distributed so many strikeouts on Friday night that he didn’t need his defense until the third inning. He whiffed eight batters for the first eight outs of the game, finishing his outing with 10 K’s and only three hits in five innings. He helped power the D-backs at the plate, too, plating a run in the second inning to bring his season totals to a career-best 10 hits and four RBI.

Cardinals 11, Giants 6: The Giants’ skid ran to four straight losses after a rare implosion from Sam Dyson, who entered the ninth inning with a 5-5 tie and left it with a four-run deficit. Albert Suarez fared little better, relieving Dyson with one out and a runner on first and promptly giving up a two-run homer.

The Cardinals now sit four games back of a wild card spot, while the Giants, uh, are trending in the opposite direction.

Mets, Astros (postponed): Few things are better than weekend baseball, but this is one of them:

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Astros 9, Diamondbacks 4: The Astros built an 8-0 lead in the first four innings thanks to six extra-base hits and then put it on cruise control. It wasn’t all rosy, though. Astros starter Brad Peacock hit a double that plated a run, but he didn’t do so well in is primary task, failing to get past the fifth inning. Houston won here, but they’ve scuffled of late and still aren’t where they’d like to be once the playoffs start.

Yankees 5, Mets 4: Good news: Sonny Gray allowed two runs over six and got his first win in pinstripes. Bad news: Aroldis Chapman was terrible again, allowing two runs on two hits in his just-barely-a-save and then winced coming off the mound, which later was revealed to be due to a tweaked hamstring. It’s unclear if he’ll miss any time. If he doesn’t, he going to need to figure out how to miss some bats, because he ain’t been doing that lately.

Nationals 3, Angels 1: Gio Gonzalez snaps the Angels’ winning streak at six thanks to six innings of two-hit, shutout ball. He was backed by two Howie Kendrick solo homers. Kendrick has been on fire since coming over from Philly at the deadline. Since the trade he’s hitting .386/.413/.727 with four homers and 11 RBI in 14 games. Nice pickup.

Rays 6, Blue Jays 4Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer and Wilson Ramos added a solo shot to help the Rays end their four-game losing streak and giving them what, for them anyway, is an absolute offensive explosion. Josh Donaldson homered for the third straight game in a losing cause.

Red Sox 10, Cardinals 4: An eight-run fifth inning by the Sox did in the Cards. Xander Bogaerts had three hits and Hanley RamirezSandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. each knocked in two. The play of the game was a defensive one, though, as the Sox turned an around-the-horn triple play:

Boston has won 11 of 13.

Giants 9, Marlins 4: Giancarlo Stanton homered in his sixth straight game. The record for consecutive games with a home run is eight, held by Stanton’s manager, Don Mattingly, Dale Long, and Ken Griffey, Jr., so keep watching. That was it for the Marlins, though, as the Giants offense did some damage. Denard Span had three hits including a homer. He and Hunter Pence each drove in a pair. Ryder Jones homered. Madison Bumgarner may have given up that shot to Stanton, but he knocked in a run of his own with a single while scattering nine hits and allowing four runs in six innings.

Brewers 3, Pirates 1: Zach Davies outdueled Ivan Nova, allowing one run over six. Manny Pina drove in two and Keon Broxton hit a pinch hit solo homer for the Brew Crew.

Rangers 10, Tigers 4: Texas beat up Justin Verlander for three homers and five runs over six innings, with the dingers coming off the bats of Joey Gallo (natch), Mike Napoli and Robinson Chirinos. Gallo’s homer was estimated at 459 feet, but the most impressive part of it was that the strikeout friendly slugger did it after coming back from an 0-2 count and laying off some high heat from Verlander, who had struck him out on three pitches in his previous at bat.

Reds 2, Cubs 1: Starters Luis Castillo and Kyle Hendricks each tossed six scoreless innings, but Scooter Gennett drove in Joey Votto with a sacrifice fly in the eighth to break a scoreless tie and Billy Hamilton singled home the go-ahead run in the ninth. Votto reached base three times, all on walks, to bring himself to within a game of Ted Williams’ record for the most consecutive games of reaching twice.

Indians 8, Twins 1: Carlos Santana hit two homers and teammates Jason Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion and Austin Jackson each went deep as well. Danny Salazar allowed one run over seven, striking out ten. Maybe this year will be the opposite of last year for Cleveland, and they’ll peak late instead of early with healthy starting pitching heading into the playoffs.

Braves 4, Rockies 3: Nolan Arenado committed a rare throwing error which allowed Brandon Phillips to score the go-ahead run for Atlanta in the eighth inning. Nick Markakis homered as the Braves get a rare win in Coors Field. Back in the day (like, 20 years ago) they owned Colorado, but the Rockies had taken 11 straight from the Braves in Denver before this one.

Athletics 10, Royals 8: The teams combined to score 11 runs in the eighth inning. Viva bullpens. Matt Joyce hit a three-run double that inning, pulling the A’s from behind. Ned Yost walked Rajai Davis to load the bases to get to minor, too which, oops. Joyce had homered earlier in the game which made it all the more questionable, but managers like their lefty-lefty matchups and their theoretical double plays. Drew ButeraEric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas all homered in the Royals half of the run-happy eighth.

Mariners 3, Orioles 1: Andrew Albers allowed one run over five for his first win in just over four years. The last came on August 12, 2013. Don’t make any plans for mid-August, 2021 if you’re an Albers fan. He had some serious help from Jarod Dyson. Look at this throw, off friggin’ balance, too:

Dodgers 6, White Sox 1: Seems unfair to let the White Sox play the Dodgers, but that’s what the schedule called for. It looked close for a while, actually, as the game was tied 1-1 in the eighth. That’s when L.A. unloaded for five runs, with the go-ahead run coming on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch of Joc Pederson followed by two-run singles from both Austin Barnes and Corey Seager. The Dodgers are no 50 games over .500.

Padres 8, Phillies 4: Cory Spangenberg homered for the third time in four games and drove in four and starter Dinelson Lamet allowed two runs over seven innings of work, striking out seven. He also leads the league in Names That Should Totally Be That Of The Main Character In Magical Realist Novels.