Friday, June 30, 2017

Ubaldo Jimenez Stops Jays In 2-0 Baltimore Victory; Clayton Kershaw 12-2 After Dodgers Down Angels

Players of the Day for Thursday, June 29, 2017

American League

Jimenez: 2-hits Blue Jays
Having fallen from first place to last from May through June, the Baltimore Orioles were on the verge of falling out of the AL East race in early fashion. Their pitching had fallen completely apart, with starters routinely being pounded and relievers unable to hold leads.

Recently, though, the O's have shown signs of life... and better pitching. They've taken their last two series - both on the road - over Tampa Bay and Toronto, culminating Thursday night with a dominating two-hit performance by Ubaldo Jimenez in a 2-0 victory at Toronto.

Jimenez, who went 19-5 for Colorado in 2010 and was considered one of baseball's brightest young stars, has had only two winning seasons since - 13-9 with Cleveland in 2013, and 12-10 with the Orioles in 2015. This season, his stats imploded. He entered the game with the Blue Jays with a 7.26 ERA and a 2-3 record.

For whatever reason, Jimenez turned in his best performance of the season, seemingly in the nick of time for the Orioles and possibly his career. All the Blue Jays could muster were a pair of doubles and a fifth-inning walk to Troy Tulowitzski over eight innings. Jimenez notched a season-high with strikeouts, throwing 71 of 98 pitches for strikes.

Brad Brach allowed a hit in the ninth, but secured the win with his 15th save, leaving the Orioles 5 1/2 off the pace in the division, the Blue Jays two games further back.

Baltimore heads home for a three-game series with Tampa Bay on Friday. Toronto remains home, hosting the Red Sox for three games, also beginning Friday.

National League

Clayton Kershaw improved to 12-2 as the LA Dodgers scored a 6-2 win against crosstown rival Angels, splitting the home-and-home, four-game series two games apiece.

Kershaw: 12-2, 2.32 ERA
As he has been for nearly the entire season, Kershaw was somewhat untouchable, allowing three hits, walking two, striking out 12. The run allowed in the fourth inning, which briefly tied the game, was unearned and scored on a fielder's choice.

The Dodgers took the lead for good in the fifth, on solo homers by Yasiel Puig and Chase Utley, and put it away, with their ace, Kershaw on the bump, on Joc Pederson's three-run blast in the sixth inning.

Kershaw set down the side in order in the seventh, turning the ball over to the Dodger bullpen. Luis Avilan was roughed up for a run, but Brandon Morrow got two outs in the eighth, setting up Kenley Jansen for his 18th save, going 1 1/3 innings without allowing a hit.

Kershaw has three more wins than his closest pursuers, which includes Max Scherzer, Antonio Senzatella, Stephen Strasburg, and Zack Greinke, all with nine. His 135 strikeouts is second to Scherzer's 151, and his 2.32 ERA is also second to Scherzer (2.06). The win was Kershaw's eighth straight and fifth straight in June. He hasn't lost a game since a 4-3 loss to the Giants on May 1st.

With the win, the Dodgers opened a 2 1/2 game lead on Arizona, 10-4 losers to St. Louis, in the NL West. The Dodgers head down the coast to play the Padres in a three-game series beginning Friday.

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