Bill Baer

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Indians defeat Orioles to run winning streak to 18 games

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Trevor Bauer pitched 6 1/3 effective innings against the Orioles on Sunday night, helping the Indians extend their winning streak to 18 games. The Indians won 3-2 as the bullpen pitched in to collect the final eight outs.

Jose Ramirez opened the scoring with an RBI ground out in the first inning against O’s starter Jeremy Hellickson. Neither team would score again until the top of the sixth, when the O’s tied things at one apiece with Jonathan Schoop‘s RBI single. The Indians pulled ahead for good in the bottom half of the sixth as Roberto Perez and Francisco Lindor each hit solo home runs off of Hellickson. Chris Davis tried to pull the Orioles back with a solo homer of his own in the top of the seventh, but it would just barely be not enough.

Joe Smith, Tyler Olson, Nick Goody, and Cody Allen combined to blank the Orioles once Bauer exited.

The Indians are now two games shy of matching the Athletics’ record 20-game winning streak set in 2002.

Bradley Zimmer dives head-first into first base, breaks bone in left hand

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Update (10:37 PM, September 11): Bastian reports that Zimmer will undergo surgery as Zimmer suffered a broken fourth metacarpal on the dive attempt. The Indians don’t have a timetable for his recovery yet, but he will very likely miss the rest of the regular season, if not the playoffs.

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Update (11:46 PM ET): Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Zimmer suffered a broken bone in his left hand on the slide. He’ll be examined by a doctor on Monday.

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Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer tried his hardest to beat out a routine ground ball in the bottom of the seventh inning, diving head-first into first base, but he was ultimately called out. Zimmer was shaken up on the play and he needed attention from the team trainer to examine his hand. He initially stayed in the game but he was taken out before the top of the eighth.

Every so often, we hear about a player suffering an injury hustling to first base trying to turn an out into a hit. Sometimes, it works and the player gets a hit out of it. Sometimes, it goes really wrong and the player suffers a serious injury like a broken finger or wrist. Is the risk worth the reward? Unless it’s Game 7 of the World Series, probably not. And even then, from the player’s perspective, still probably not because he could be potentially costing himself millions of dollars and multiple years on a contract. Teams don’t like to make heavy commitments to injured/injury-prone players.

Back in 2012, then-Dodgers first base coach Davey Lopes — one of the greatest base runners of all time — said of former major leaguer Nick Punto’s propensity to dive into first base, “I wouldn’t teach it,” J.P. Hoornstra reported. John Brenkus also proved for ESPN many years ago that it’s better to run through the bag as opposed to diving.

In Zimmer’s situation, his team was in the midst of an historic 17-game winning streak (now 18) and is battling the Astros for the best record in the league. Games are very meaningful right now, so it’s understandable why he’d push his pedal to the metal. But he also recently came off of the seven-day concussion disabled list after injuring his head attempting to make a catch on Setpember 2. Is a single in a game his team was already leading 3-2 worth it compared to the Indians potentially losing him for the stretch run when the club is already missing Michael Brantley? Oftentimes, the motivations of a team is at odds with a player’s best interest, but here, the Indians very much want to keep Zimmer healthy. They would have traded that single and even the continuation of their winning streak in order to make that happen, for sure.

The blame here lies in the “hustle” culture of sports. In baseball, we publicly ostracize players who appear to take it easy on a routine grounder or pop-up and humiliate them in the very rare instance in which a fielder misplays one of those otherwise routine outs. But those who “dog it” have it right: turning the occasional ground out or fly out into a single (or, more rarely, a double) isn’t worth potentially winding up on the 10-day disabled list with a pulled hamstring, a dislocated finger, or a concussion. If I’m in the front office or the coaching staff of a baseball team, one of the first things I’m stressing early in spring training is that it is not okay to dive into first base under any circumstances unless it’s Game 7 of the World Series and the score is close.

The Indians should have more information on Zimmer’s status on Monday. In the meantime, Zimmer is very likely regretting his decision to put in some extra effort. As Allan F. Mogensen said in the 1930’s, “Work smarter, not harder.”

Dodgers suffer their 10th consecutive loss

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This is not how Dodgers manager Dave Roberts envisioned September going for his team. The club beat the Padres 1-0 on September 1, improving to 92-41. Since then, the Dodgers have failed to win a game, suffering 10 consecutive defeats: three to the Padres, three to the Diamondbacks, and four to the Rockies. In a slightly larger picture, the Dodgers have lost 15 of their last 16 ballgames.

The Dodgers suffered an 8-1 loss to the Rockies on Sunday afternoon. The Rockies scored twice against Rich Hill over his five innings of work and Mark Reynolds put the cherry on top of the sundae with an eighth-inning grand slam off of Walker Buehler. Tony Wolters tacked on an RBI single for good measure and Trevor Story drilled a solo homer in the ninth. Tyler Chatwood started and tossed five shutout innings. Carlos Estevez, Mike Dunn, Scott Oberg, and Adam Ottavino stymied the Dodgers over the final four frames. Alex Verdugo hit his first major league home run, a solo shot, in the bottom of the ninth, but it was too little, too late.

Entering Sunday’s action, Dodger pitching combined to put up a 6.24 ERA in the nine previous games between September 2-9. That includes 14 home runs allowed in 79 1/3 innings. The offense had combined to hit a thoroughly unimpressive .197/.255/.340 in 319 plate appearances since September 2.

The 88-55 Nationals, who clinched the NL East on Sunday, have made up some ground to the 92-51 Dodgers in the race for home field advantage.