It’s no shame to go hitless against Madison Bumgarner on a night like he had last night. And slumps certainly happen. But Matt Kemp is in a pronounced slump right now, and with the Dodgers sliding out of first place after last night’s loss to San Francisco, they need him to figure it out.
Kemp is 0 for his last 19 and his OPS has dipped below 1.000 for the first time since the fifth game of the season. Last night he struck out with a runner on third in the sixth inning — Shane Victorino got there by stealing both second and third — to end what amounted to the Dodgers best scoring threat. Kemp was clearly frustrated at the strikeout, feigning throwing his bat and then starting to break it over his knee but thinking better of it.
Kemp is obviously still having a great year — he’s hitting .333/.402/.596 — but the Dodgers are going to need him to heat back up if they want to keep pace with the Giants.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.