Mike Baxter’s Saturday feat a first in nine years

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Five-walk games typically happen once or twice per year, and Mike Baxter’s Saturday against the Padres was even more unusual than most.

Baxter, the Mets’ right fielder, became the first player since Florida’s Ivan Rodriguez on April 8, 2003 to go 0-for-0 with five unintentional walks in a game.

The 27-year-old Baxter entered the night with eight walks in 71 at-bats and 43 games for the season.

Baxter was the second player this year with five walks in a game, but the Royals’ Alex Gordon had eight plate appearances when he did it in a 15-inning game against the Cardinals back on June 17. Gordon was also the last player to go 0-for-0 with five walks in a game, pulling it off on July 30, 2008. However, he was intentionally walked twice in that game.

That Ivan Rodriguez was the last player to go 0-for-0 with five unintentional walks should surprise most (it certainly did me). The free swinging catcher had just 446 unintentional walks in 10,270 career plate appearances, a rate of one unintentional walk every 23 plate appearances. He was uncharacteristically patient in 2003, setting a career high with 55 walks (six intentional). His next highest total was 41 walks (also with six intentional) from 2004.

If you’re still interested in more walk trivia, know that Baxter is the 86th different player since 1918 with five walks in a game. Mel Ott has the high total, with four such games. Barry Bonds is alone in second with three (with at least one intentional walk in all three). The only active players with two are Gordon and Mark Teixeira.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.