Bill Baer

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers stands on the pitcher's mound in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs during game two of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw survives the 7th, Dodgers beat Cubs 1-0 to even NLCS


Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw‘s seventh-inning troubles have been well-documented. The best pitcher in baseball somehow brought a career 4.79 postseason ERA into Sunday night’s NLCS Game 2 start against the Cubs, which included a staggering 23.82 ERA in the seventh inning of those games. But Kershaw pitched the seventh and survived, helping the Dodgers tiptoe out of Wrigley Field with a 1-0 victory to even up the NLCS.

Kershaw went seven scoreless frames, giving up only two hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 84 pitches. He was pitching on short rest, technically, as he threw seven pitches to close out Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals. He last started on October 11, tossing 110 pitches in Game 4.

The Cubs’ best opportunity against Kershaw came in the fifth inning when Javier Baez and Willson Contreras hit back-to-back two-out singles, but Jason Heyward popped out foul to first baseman Justin Turner. The Cubs also had a runner on first base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when Javier Baez smoked a Kershaw fastball that looked like a home run off the bat but died in the glove of Joc Pederson in deep center field.

The only offense came from Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez swatted a solo home run to left-center at Wrigley Field off of Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks in the second inning. Hendricks yielded the lone run on three hits and four walks with five strikeouts on 91 pitches before giving way to the bullpen.

Closer Kenley Jansen took over in the eighth inning, requiring only nine pitches to send the game to the ninth. He struck out Contreras on three pitches, got Heyward to fly out on three pitches, and then struck out pinch-hitter (and Game 1 hero) Miguel Montero on three pitches. Jansen returned in the bottom of the ninth for his second inning of work. The right-hander struck out Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant before getting Anthony Rizzo to hit a weak liner to Chase Utley at second base to end the game.

With the series tied at one apiece, the two clubs will take Monday off to travel. Game 3 will start at 8:00 PM at Dodger Stadium. The Cubs will send Jake Arrieta to the hill to oppose Dodgers lefty Rich Hill.

Jose Bautista implies that “circumstances” are working against the Blue Jays in ALCS

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after striking out to end the third inning against Josh Tomlin #43 of the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Blue Jays are down two games to none in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series against the Indians and outfielder Jose Bautista isn’t happy about it. Mike Vorkunov, a contributor to various publications including USA TODAY, reported this on Sunday evening:

I’ve always been a fan of “Hanlon’s razor,” which says (paraphrasing), “don’t attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity.” It’s a lot easier to defend the assertion that umpires just make mistakes. Sometimes, for no reason at all, a disproportionate amount of calls will go against a particular team. It would be more questionable if umpires evenly distributed all of their mistakes. On the other hand, it’s much, much more difficult to link poor officiating to a grand conspiracy against a particular team.

This is, of course, humoring Bautista’s implied narrative that a disproportionate amount of calls have gone against the Jays in the ALCS. Which, I don’t know. Maybe. Probably not.

If Bautista’s implied claim is unfounded, which it almost certainly is, Major League Baseball can’t sit by and let one of its most recognizable players undermine the legitimacy of its contests.

Update (7:30 PM EDT): Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus did the legwork.

Report: Frank Wren is the “leading candidate” to become new Red Sox GM

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Frank Wren, who has been hired as the Boston Red Sox's vice president of baseball operations, smiles as he interacts with the media before a game with the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on September 25, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Frank Wren is the “leading candidate” to become the new general manager of the Red Sox after Mike Hazen left to join the Diamondbacks’ front office, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports.

Wren, 58, was GM of the Braves from 2007-14 before joining the Red Sox as the senior VP of baseball operations last year.

Wren’s stint with the Braves was somewhat controversial as he missed on some big acquisitions, including Melvin Upton, Jr. and Derek Lowe. He did hit on a few, though, including Justin Upton and Javier Vasquez. The Braves ended up making the playoffs three times in Wren’s tenure, losing twice in the NLDS and losing the National League Wild Card game in 2012.