Let’s check in on Dusty Baker

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Flash back, if you will, to Game 5 of the NLDS between the Nationals and Dodgers. The Dodgers emerged 4-3 victors of that game and earned the right to advance to the NLCS to face the Cubs.

Game 5 featured Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen coming in to pitch the seventh inning. Jansen got into a bit of trouble in the seventh but ultimately escaped. He worked a scoreless eighth and returned to the mound in the ninth, but after issuing back-to-back one-out walks, he exited the game and ace Clayton Kershaw entered. Jansen threw 51 pitches, by far surpassing his previous career-high.

Kershaw, who started Game 4 and threw 110 pitches, needed only seven pitches to close out the ninth in Game 5, getting Daniel Murphy to pop out before getting Wilmer Difo to fan at a curve in the dirt for strike three.

In a postseason that has been under a microscope due to controversial bullpen management, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts looked like a genius. Nationals manager Dusty Baker, however, wasn’t on board.

So off the Dodgers went to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in the NLCS. The Dodgers lost Game 1 due to a disastrous eighth inning for reliever Joe Blanton. Jansen — nor Kershaw — made an appearance.

In Game 2, however, Kershaw and Jansen were the only two pitches the Dodgers needed to even up the series at one game apiece. Kershaw went seven innings, allowing just two hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 84 pitches. Jansen entered in the eighth and recorded a two-inning save, facing the minimum with four strikeouts on 18 pitches.

Seems like they’re doing just fine.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”