The Dodgers’ injury woes deepened Friday night as Hyun-Jin Ryu was placed on the 15-day disabled list with Grade 1-2 strains in his right gluteus medius and piriformis muscles, which had forced him out of his Thursday night start with two outs in the sixth inning. Ryu is the third key player the Dodgers have had to disable in the last week following Josh Beckett (torn left hip labrum) and Hanley Ramirez (strained right oblique). Not to mention, relievers Paul Maholm, Chris Perez, and Paco Rodriguez have hit the disabled list at the start of the month in addition to third baseman Juan Uribe coming out of Friday night’s game with a tight left hamstring. He’s considered day-to-day.
As a result of the rash of injuries to hit their pitching staff, the Dodgers have been active in adding arms via the waiver wire, trading players to be named later for the Phillies’ Roberto Hernandez and Twins’ Kevin Correia earlier this week and adding Justin Germano from the Rangers for “future considerations” on Friday. For the time being, Hernandez and Correia will replace Beckett and Ryu, respectively, in the rotation. Though both joined the Dodgers in the midst of dismal seasons, they have combined to go 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts thus far with all three of them quality starts lasting exactly six innings.
There’s little reason to expect Hernandez and Correia to continue to pitch that well, but with a 5 1/2 game lead in the National League West after Friday’s action and the second-place Giants, who have lost 14 of their last 20, having posted a losing record since the start of May, the Dodgers have hope that Ryu’s injury will prove to be little more than a literal pain in the butt. Indeed, heading into Friday night’s action, and prior to Ryu being placed on the disabled list, the Dodgers had a 99.4 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 96 percent chance of winning their division according to Baseball Prospectus’s Playoff Odds. The latter number is the highest of any of the six current division leaders, and the former number trails only the A’s by just two-tenths of a percent. at that.
The Dodgers shouldn’t have too much trouble maintaining their division lead while Ryu is healing, and the Dodgers fully expect him to return in time for the playoffs, though they did confess to some ignorance on Friday as to what to expect in terms of Ryu’s recovery time.
“This is not an injury they’ve seen a whole lot of,” manager Don Mattingly said of the team’s training staff. “There haven’t been a bunch of guys with this that they see. The timetable will be determined kind of how he goes.”
Tigers fall farther behind in AL Central
The fall of the 2014 Detroit Tigers passed another stratum Friday night as the Mariners scored six runs against Rick Porcello and beat the Tigers 7-2 behind rookie lefty James Paxton. With that loss, the Tigers, who fell out of first place in the AL Central on Monday, dropped one game behind the Mariners in the win column at 65-55, and thus out of the second wild-card spot in the American League. This marks the first time the Tigers have not occupied a playoff spot since July 2 of last season and the first time they have been out of a playoff spot this late in a season since 2012, when they passed the White Sox for the Central Division title in the season’s final week.
The Tigers have now lost seven of their last 10 games, are 12-17 (.414) since the All-Star break and had have played sub-.500 ball since June 27. In stark contrast to that, the Mariners have won five in a row and nine of their last ten. Meanwhile, the Royals survived a late rally by the Twins to pull out a 6-5 win Friday night, their 19th win in their last 23 games, and expanded their AL Central lead over Detroit to a game and a half.
With the Mariners now holding a half-game lead on the Tigers for that second wild-card spot, Saturday brings the first-ever major league matchup of Felix Hernandez and David Price. Mix in Hernandez’s still-active record streak of consecutive starts with at least seven innings pitched and no more than two runs allowed -- now at 16, three more than the previous record set by Tom Seaver in 1971 -- and Saturday night’s game in Detroit should be must-see baseball.
Rays make history with latest victory
In other news, the Tampa Bay Rays shutout the Yankees 5-0 Friday night behind a strong start from Alex Cobb. With that win, the Rays evened their record at 61-61 making them just the fourth team in baseball history to battle back to .500 after being 18 games below earlier in the season. The first three were the 2006 Marlins, the 2004 Devil Rays and the 1899 Louisville Colonels. It’s worth noting that all three of those teams finished the season back under .500 (the Colonels at 75-77, the ’04 Rays at 70-91 and the Marlins at 78-84). Of course, that just means the Rays have a real chance to be the first team ever to finish with a winning record after having once been 18 games under .500.
The Rays were 24-42 on the morning of June 11, but have gone 37-19 since. That’s a .661 winning percentage over their last 56 games. Since the All-Star break, they have gone 17-8 (.680) while outscoring their opponents by 52 runs in a mere 25 games. On the season, the Rays have out-scored their opponents by 31 runs for the ninth-best differential in the majors. Even before their win Friday night, they had the fourth-best third-order winning percentage in the majors, and the best outside of the AL West, where the A’s, Angels, and Mariners boast the three best marks in the bigs.
The Rays are still a long shot to be a playoff contender in late September -- they are 5 1/2 games behind the Mariners for that second wild-card spot with four other teams in between and nine games out in the AL East -- but given what they’ve already accomplished, it would be silly to rule them out completely. On the morning of June 11, the Rays had the worst record in baseball by three games. Since then, they have had the best record in baseball, a half-game better than the Orioles, who lost to Cleveland Friday night on an 11th inning walk-off homer by Mike Aviles.
Unsurprisingly, Rays manager Joe Maddon thinks his team can make it all the way to October.