Chris Sale went seven innings, allowed only one hit and two walks, and struck out 15 in Sunday’s 3-1 win against the Cubs. That puts him at 208 strikeouts across 23 starts on the season along with a 3.32 ERA. He’d be in the AL Cy Young conversation if he hadn’t allowed seven runs in back-to-back starts on July 30 and August 4.
Sale is also on pace for 298 strikeouts over 33 starts. A pitcher hasn’t struck out 300 in a season since teammates Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson did so for the Diamondbacks in 2002, with 316 and 334, respectively. Sale struck out 10-plus batters in eight consecutive starts between May 23 and June 30, but did so only once since the beginning of July entering Sunday’s start against the Cubs.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has 205 strikeouts across 23 starts, putting him on pace for 294 over 33 starts. Either pitcher, with a strong finish to the regular season, could accomplish the feat.
The Braves and Marlins have some bad blood, especially concerning Ronald Acuña Jr. Around this time last year, José Ureña intentionally threw at Acuña in the first at-bat of a game, leading to a benches-clearing incident. Acuña was hit on the elbow and exited the game but was ultimately fine. Acuña’s crime? Just being good at baseball. At the time, he had homered in five consecutive games, including three games against the Marlins.
In 2019, the first-place Braves and last-place Marlins have mostly minded their own business. The Marlins, however, can certainly keep a grudge it appears. With his first pitch in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night in Atlanta, Marlins starter Elieser Hernández hit Acuña in the hip.
Home plate umpire Alan Porter issued warnings to both dugouts. Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t happy about his side having received a warning for no reason, and was ejected by first base umpire Mark Wegner. Hernández would hit Adeiny Hechavarría with a pitch in the fourth inning — seemingly unintentionally — and was not ejected. Other than that, there were no more incidents and cooler heads prevailed.
Acuña finished 1-for-4 in the Braves’ 5-1 win. Freddie Freeman hit two home runs and knocked in four runs.