We are in the end stages of the pennant race.
The two first place teams, Robert and John, faced off in a 4 game series. Robert came into the week a mere 1.5 games ahead of Chris while John was a more manageable 4.5 games ahead of Phil. Game 1 was a matchup between lefty Mike Minor for Robert and Noah Syndergaard for John. Neither starter would figure in the decision, as the score was tied at 4 after 4 innings. The score remained deadlocked until the bottom of the 9th when, with one out, Victor Reyes doubled for John off of Emilio Pagan (0-1). Pagan then threw the next pitch to the backstop, allowing Reyes to move to third. Ketel Marte then stroked a single through the drawn-in infield to win the game for John. Willie Harris (7-2) got the win. In game 2, Robert was ahead, 3-2 behind the strong pitching of Jacob deGrom (19-6). deGrom pitched into the bottom of the 8th when, with one out, he walked Jorge Polanco. Dee Gordon pinch ran for Polanco. Jorge Soler stepped to the plate and caught a hanging slider for a 2-run homer that proved to be the winner. Robert outhit John, 11-5, but left 8 men on base. Luis Perdomo (1-1) picked up the win in relief. The series switched to Robert’s park, and once again Robert was ahead, this time 3-0 after 5. In the top of the 6th, John managed 2 runs, thanks in part to an error by Eugenio Suarez. Then things fell apart for Patrick Corbin (9-13). Eric Sogard led off with a homer. James McCann doubled. Alex Gordon struck out. Elvis Andrus then doubled in McCann. Taylor Rogers relieved Corbin. Victor Robles singled Andrus to third. Rhys Hopkins then launched his 5th homer to make it 5 runs and the ballgame. Robert scored 2 more in the 8th to make it a bit closer, but lost, 7-5. Mike Soroka (12-6) got the win and Luis Perdomo picked up his 1st save. Facing a sweep, Robert sent Marcus Stroman (12-14) to the mound, but Stroman just didn’t have it. He gave up 1 run in the first and 3 more in the 2nd, highlighted by a 3-run double by Jorge Polanco. John put up another 3 runs in the 4th and a run in the 6th. Robert put up 4 late runs, but it wasn’t enough as he fell to Anibal Sanchez (10-7) and was swept by John.
Chris’ team was playing Mark and spent quite a bit of time watching the scoreboard. A bit too much, time, it seems. Game 1 saw Chris jump out to a 5-2 lead early and withstood a Mark comeback to take the win, 7-5. Anthony Rendon hit 3 homers (26,27,28) and George Springer hit his 38th. Sonny Gray (18-8) was the winner and Mike Leake (10-12) took the loss. In game 2, every time Chris scored, Mark’s team answered. Chris put up a run in the 3rd, and Mark scored two. Chris scored 2 runs in the 5th (George Springer’s 39th homer) and Mark scored 3 (Brian Anderson’s 15th, a 3-run shot). Mark continued scoring, and Chris just couldn’t keep up. The final score was 9-4. Madison Bumgarner (9-9) took the loss, while Jake Odorizzi (8-16) got the win. Aaron Judge got hurt for 2 games. In Game 3, Mark took an early lead in the first on back to back homers by Chris Taylor (9) and Nolan Arenado (30). Mark added a run in the 4th when Jeff McNeil tripled and Gio Urshela brought him home with a single. Chris tried to come back with single runs in the 6th and 9th, but it wasn’t enough, and he fell, 3-2. Lance Lynn (11-10) was the winner, while Stephen Strasburg (11-13) took the loss. Alex Colome picked up his 11th save. Chris fell behind early in game 4 when Buster Posey blasted a two-run shot in the 2nd (his 2nd) and Nolan Arenado hit a solo shot in the 3rd (31). Chris got a couple back on a Anthony Rendon two-run homer in the 3rd (his 30th), but went into the top of the 9th trailing, 4-3. With one out, Brandon Belt doubled off of Joakim Soria (1-7). Adam Frazier then tripled to tie the game. John Gant replaced Soria and got Bellinger to ground out to Jeff McNeil, who looked Frazier back to third. With two outs, George Springer pulled a double down the left field line. Frazier scored the go-ahead run, and Gio Urshela lost his grip on the ball, allowing Springer to come all the way around to score. Zack Britton and Liam Hendriks (5th save) held Mark in the 9th for the 6-4 win. The blown save was Soria’s 6th. Shane Greene (2-2) picked up the win. Chris came into game 5 a half game ahead of Robert for first place in the division and sent game 1 winner Sonny Gray to the mound against Mike Leake. Mark struck first when Tommy Edman led off the bottom of the first with a single and then went to third on a Chris Taylor single. Nolan Arenado hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but Edman scored. Mark added to his lead in the 5th When Gio Urshela scored on a sacrifice fly. Chris got a homer by Chris Cron (6th) in the 7th, but went into the top of the 9th trailing, 2-1. With one out, Xander Bogaerts took Joakim Soria deep (his 21st) to tie the game (Soria’s 7th blown save). The game remained tied into the 11th, when Mark loaded the bases with no outs off of Tyler Chatwood (0-1). Zack Britton came in to face Tommy Edman, who laced his 4th hit of the game up the middle to win it for Mark. After dropping the series, 3-2, Chris is tied with Robert for first place with a 81-58 record. Next week Chris has 5 games against Dougald, while Robert has 5 against Bob.
Rich went to Phil’s park for 5 games. As the series started, Rich was only 2.5 games behind Phil for playoff position. In game 1, Phil scored early and often off of Hyun-jin Ryu (10-10) and cruised to an 11-4 victory. Ramon Laureano (16) and Yordan Alvarez (23) hit early homers for Phil. Clayton Kershaw (10-7) got the win. Rich sent John Flaherty to the mound in game 2 against Yu Darvish, and Flaherty was up to the task, pitching 8 shutout innings, striking out 10. In the bottom of the 9th, Rich was up, 2-0, and sent Pedro Baez to the mound to nail things down. Baez (1-4) started by walking Paul Goldschmidt. Alex Verdugo bounced one to John Donaldson at 3rd, and Donaldson got the force at 2nd. Francisco Mejia struck out looking. Kevin Newman walked, bringing up Austin Meadows as the winning run with two outs. Meadows picked out a fastball and deposited it in the left field bleachers (his 28th) to walk the game off for Phil. Robert Stephenson (6-9) got the win. Game 3 was a back and forth affair, right up until it wasn’t. Rich started fast, when Carlos Correa hit a 2-out 2-run homer in the first (his 22nd). Phil answered with 3 runs in the 3rd, highlighted by a Ramon Laureano 2-run homer (his 17th). Phil added a run in the 4th to go up by 2, but Rich answered in the top of the 6th with 3 runs, aided by a 2-base error by Laureano, to retake the lead. Then Rich exploded for 6 runs in the 7th, highlighted by a 3-run shot by Gary Sanchez (7) and a 2-run shot by Gleybar Torres (his league-leading 45th in computer play) to take the 11-5 win. David Price (7-10) was the winner, while Zack Wheeler (9-10) took the loss. In game 4, Phil took a 2-0 lead in the 2nd, helped by a Alex Verdugo solo shot (11). That would be all the runs Phil would need, as Jeff Samardzija (12-5) combined with Jose LeClerc and Tyler Webb (6th save) on a 1-hit shutout. Josh Donaldson ended the drama early with a double in the 2nd, but Rich wasn’t able to get another hit and lost, 3-0. Chris Paddack (10-9) took the loss. In game 5, Phil scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 3rd, knocking Julio Teheran (8-13) out of the game. Paul Goldschmidt blasted his 34th homer, a 2-run shot. Rich answered with 4 runs of his own in the top of the 7th on a solo shot by Mike Trout (39) and a 3-run homer by Max Kepler (33), but was unable to get the tying run and fell, 5-4. Justin Verlander (17-5) went 6 1/3 for the win, and Yusmerio Petit notched his 11th save. The loss knocks Rich out of playoff contention, as he is now 5.5 games out with 4 to play (he faces Mark next week). After his 4-1 week, Phil is 5 games behind John for first, with a 5 game series against Paul next week. John has 5 games against Tim to end the regular season.
Dougald traveled to Bob to play 5 games. In game 1, Bob was comfortably ahead, 6-2, having knocked out starter Matt Boyd after just 2/3 of an inning, when things got decidedly uncomfortable in the 8th. JD Davis led off with a walk off of Tommy Kahnle. Bryce Harper then doubled in Davis. Mike Morin (0-1) came in to relieve Kahnle. Yasmani Grandal walked. Morin then threw a wild pitch, moving the runners to 2nd and 3rd before Brett Gardner tripled both of them in. Francisco Lindor grounded out, with Gardner holding. Max Muncy walked. Mark Canha singled in Gardner to tie the game. Brandon Lowe singled in Muncy. Yimi Garcia relieved Morin. Justin Turner flew out, but JD Davis got up for the second time in the inning and parked his 16th homer, a 3-run shot, before Bryce Harper flew out to end it at 8 runs. Bob didn’t score again, and Dougald took the 10-6 comeback win. Roberto Osuna (7-3) got the win, and Seth Lugo picked up his 13th save. Game 2 was scoreless going into the 6th when Mark Canha homered for Dougald (12) off of Aaron Nola (11-9). Kris Bryant homered (24) for Bob in the bottom of the inning to tie things up, but Dougald got solo homers from Yuli Gurriel (8) and Brett Gardner (14) while Tyler Clippard and Felipe Vazquez held Bob scoreless to win the game for Kyle Hendricks (11-10), 3-1. Vazquez picked up his 8th save. Bob took an early 1-0 lead in the first in game 3, but Dougald struck back with 3 runs in the 2nd, the key hit being a Francisco Lindor single that Kris Bryant misplayed in left to score 2 runs. Dougald never trailed again and held on to win, 5-3. Zack Greinke (14-7) got the win, and Brad Hand earned his 3rd save. Gerritt Cole (10-14) picked up the loss. Game 4 saw Dougald score a run off of Masahiro Tanaka in the 3rd to take a 1-0 lead, but Bob answered with 4 runs in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back-to-back homers by Kris Bryant (2-run shot, 25), Anthony Rizzo (23), and Pete Alonso (37). Dougald struck back with 2 runs in the 4th on a Yuli Gurriel homer (9) and another run in the 6th, but Bob sealed the game with back to back homers by Corey Seager (14) and JT Realmuto (13) in the 6th and held on for the 6-4 win. Steve Cishek (3-3) got the win, despite blowing his 5th save, and Mike Morin got his 1st save. John Means (3-4) took the loss. Bob continued his winning ways in game 5, overcoming a 2-0 Dougald lead to take the game, 7-2. Pete Alonso had 2 homers (38,39) and Jose Berrios (9-18) got the win, while Matt Boyd (12-8) pitched 4 innings and took the loss. Following his 3-2 series, Dougald is 5 games behind Robert and Chris with 5 to play. Bob is 3 games below .500 with 5 to play.
Over on ESPN 932, Paul faced off against Tim. In game 1, Anthony “Prince Spaghetti Day” Desclafani (6-12) pitched 7 shutout innings and gave up 2 hits while striking out 7 to lead Paul to the 4-1 victory. Dustin German (8-9) took the loss. Starling Marte knocked in 3 runs for Paul, and Mookie Betts avoided the shutout with his 18th homer in the bottom of the 9th. Game 2 was tied, 2-2 after 9 innings. In the bottom of the 10th, Kolten Wong lined out against Sam Dyson. Kenley Jansen (3-6) relieved Dyson and promptly walked Mookie Betts. Jansen then threw a wild pitch, allowing Betts to go to 2nd, before giving up a single to Shohei Ohtani. Betts wheeled around third to score the winning run. Marcus Walden (3-4) got the win after a strong start by James “Big Maple” Paxton. Game 3 was another nail-biter. Paul was ahead, 2-1, going into the bottom of the 9th when Yasiel Puig hit a two-out double off of Kenley Jansen. Michael Givens (0-1) came in to relieve Jansen and Tim (actually the computer version of Tim) countered by pinch-hitting Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber hit a soft grounder to short that would have been a hit, but Jose Altuve (playing short?) picked it up and threw it into the stands, allowing Puig to score the tying run. Then, in the 10th, Lourdes Gurriel hit a one-out single and came home on a Manny Machado double to steal the game for Tim. Sergio Romo (4-9) got the win. Paul took an early 2-0 lead in game 4, but Tim came back with a run in the 2nd and 2 more in the 3rd (Shohei Ohtani’s 15th homer). The game went a bit back and forth after that, but Tim never surrendered the lead and took the 7-4 victory. Rick Porcello (5-12) got the win, while Brandon Woodruff (4-15) took the loss. Diego Castillo got his 3rd save. Paul was clearly all set with the drama in game 5 and blew Tim’s doors off, 11-1. Paul’s offense was powered by homers by Christian Yelich (33), Tommy La Stella (19), and Jose Altuve (27), while Tim’s lone run came on a Kyle Schwarber shot (3). Max Scherzer evened his record at 10-10 with the win, while Sandy Alcantara fell back to 9-9 with the loss.
One more week to go!