Indians Continue Historic Win Streak While Dodgers Maintain Freefall

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Sunday September 10th, 2017

The Indians won and Giancarlo Stanton hit another home run. Essentially, Saturday encapsulated everything the second half of this season has been. Here's a few of the biggest stories from the day.

Let’s Go Streaking

The Indians won on Saturday. And also on Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday, Sunday, last Saturday, last Friday, last Thursday, last Wednesday, last Tuesday, last Monday, last Sunday, the Saturday before last, the Friday before last and the Thursday before last.

The Dodgers lost on Saturday. And also on Friday, Thursday… well, let’s skip it, you get the idea.  It isn’t quite the inverse of Cleveland’s glorious stretch, but this 6-5 loss to the Rockies made it nine in a row, and 14 of 15. And yes, this started the day SI’s Dodgers cover – “Best. Team. Ever?” – hit newsstands. I do not believe in the SI cover jinx but, as the editor of that article, I have to say this one has spooked me just a bit. (At least we included the question mark.) The Dodgers hadn’t lost nine straight games since 1992.

The Indians’ 4-2 win over the Orioles came behind a solid performance by the heretofore struggling Josh Tomlin, who, like nearly the entire Indians roster, no longer seems to be capable of performing badly.  The team now has a 12-game lead over their nearest competitor, the Twins; they also moved into a tie with the Astros for the best record in the American League. A month ago, they were 10 games behind Houston.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers fell behind early and, despite several near-comebacks (including a ninth-inning Logan Forsythe solo home run), couldn’t quite catch up. It’s hard not to wonder if Alex Wood, so good for so much of the season, is either hurting or simply worn out after throwing 134 innings this season—not a particularly high total, except that he threw just 60.1 last season thanks to injuries.

L.A. still has a 10-game division lead, so it’s not exactly panic time yet. But let’s say panic time is looking at its watch, packing its bags and thinking it’s almost time to leave for the airport.

 

Cycle of Life

Jose Abreu is not known for his speed. But when you only need a triple to complete the cycle, and you hit a ball to the gap in right-center, you find another gear.

Abreu is the sixth White Sox player to hit for the cycle, the last being Jose Valentin in 2000. He’s also the seventh player to do it just this season, after Wil Myers, Trea Turner, Carlos Gomez, Nolan Arenado, Cody Bellinger and Evan Longoria. Abreu’s, which came against the last-place Giants in a 13-1 rout, might be the most impressive of all of those: Not only is he dealing with a sore ankle, he’s also preoccupied with concerns about the safety of his family members in Cuba in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. While nothing that happens on the field matters in comparison, Abreu’s first-inning homer, third-inning double, seventh-inning single and eight-inning sprinting triple were particularly impressive in context.

Sluggers Gonna Slug

The Marlins lost to the Braves 5-4, but in the first inning, Max Fried’s 91.9 mph four seamer lost to Giancarlo Stanton’s bat. It was Stanton’s 54th home run, making him the first player to reach that total since Jose Bautista in 2010.

And in the junior slugger division, the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins hit his 14th homer in only 30 games, making him the fastest player ever to 14  (just as he was the fastest player to 13, 12, 11, 10 and nine). He also passed Ted Williams for the most homers by a player who debuted after Aug. 1—which is an entirely arbitrary cutoff point, but still. Ted Williams.

Brewer Down

The Brewers’ playoff hopes are tenuous, but they aren’t snuffed yet—their 15-2 drubbing of the Cubs on Saturday put them three games back in the NL Central. But that gap will be much harder to close with the news Saturday that Jimmy Nelson, their best starter this year, will miss the rest of the season with a rotator cuff strain and partial anterior labrum tear. Nelson hasn’t gotten much national attention, but quietly was among the top 10 pitchers in the league this season, with a 3.49 ERA and 199 strikeouts (the NL’s third-best total) in 29 starts.

Nelson hurt his shoulder diving into first base, and whenever a pitcher gets hurt in the course of hitting or base running, it prompts a few calls for the NL to introduce the DH. Whatever you think about the DH, though, by far the most dangerous thing pitchers do on a regular basis is pitch, not hit. Regardless of the reason for the injury, Nelson will be badly missed by both the Brewers and discerning baseball fans everywhere, and the division race just lost a little of its sparkle.

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