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Clayton Kershaw pitches Dodgers past Brewers 5-2; Dodgers take 3-2 NLCS lead

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw bounced back from his rough outing in Game 1 of the NLCS, this time limiting the Brewers to one run over seven innings in Game 5 on Wednesday evening. He held the Brewers to three hits and a pair of walks while striking out nine on 98 pitches. The Dodgers went on to win 5-2, taking a 3-2 lead in the NLCS.

The Brewers opened the scoring in the third inning when Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI double to straightaway center field. Kershaw later walked Ryan Braun to load the bases with two outs but struck out Jesús Aguilar to escape the jam. He then put up zeroes in the fourth through seventh innings. Kershaw retired the final 13 batters he faced.

The Dodgers’ offense woke up in the midgame, playing the tying run in the fifth inning on an Austin Barnes RBI single to center against Brandon Woodruffthe de facto starter. The Dodgers took the lead in the sixth on RBI singles by Max Muncy (off of Woodruff) and Yasiel Puig (off of Corbin Burnes). Justin Turner added an RBI single in the seventh followed by a Brian Dozier RBI ground out as the Dodgers appeared to finally remember how to hit with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-14 with RISP combined in Games 3 and 4. They were 4-for-11 in Game 5.

Pedro Báez took over for Kershaw in the eighth and once again pitched brilliantly. Entering Wednesday’s appearance, he had thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings in the postseason with nine strikeouts while allowing four base runners on two hits and two walks. It was more of the same for Báez, who worked a 1-2-3 frame.

Manager Dave Roberts called on Caleb Ferguson to start the ninth inning against fellow lefty Christian Yelich. Yelich grounded out and in came the right-handed Ryan Madson. Madson got Braun to ground out, then gave up back-to-back doubles to Aguilar and pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson to make it 5-2. Roberts didn’t want to, but he had to bring closer Kenley Jansen in to close it out. He did, getting Mike Moustakas to go down swinging to end the game 5-2 in the Dodgers’ favor.

Both teams will take Thursday off to travel back to Milwaukee. The Dodgers can punch their ticket back to the World Series on Friday with a victory over the Brewers. Wade Miley will start for the Brewers, likely against Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

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Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.