By Sam McPherson
Even in the darkest of seasons, a team can find a ray of sunshine on occasion. Likewise, even during a good season, a team can struggle for a long time. The highs and lows of every Major League Baseball season are what make the sport so special to its many fans across the world. Here’s what you may have missed last week in MLB action.
Wade Davis finally gives up an earned run (two, in fact)
Since 2014, the big righty has posted an ERA of 1.16 over 201 innings for the Kansas City Royals (2014-2016) and now the Chicago Cubs. Up to last week, Davis still had a 0.00 ERA in 2017, and the moribund San Francisco Giants didn’t seem like the kind of team that could put a dent in that elite mark.
Davis still got the save as the Cubs took three of four from the Giants, but S.F. can be proud of itself for doing something no other team had been able to do this year. By the way, since 2014, Davis also has a 21-4 record to go along with 57 saves. He is the best of the best, but Mac Williamson got to him last week to spoil Davis’ bid for perfection.
Clayton Kershaw gets lit up to the tune of three home runs by Cubs
If Davis is the dominant reliever of the last few seasons, then Kershaw is the dominant starter of the last few seasons with his six straight All-Star appearances and three Cy Young Awards. Since 2011, the Los Angeles Dodgers lefty has posted a 107-39 record and a 2.08 ERA, which is absolutely insane. So, of course, it is news when he stinks up the joint, right? Definitely.
Kershaw gave up three HRs total, along with eight other hits, as he lasted just four innings against the Cubs. Despite his own team scoring six runs while he was on the mound, Kershaw couldn’t even stay in the game long enough to get a gimme victory. If the Dodgers ace wins another Cy Young this year, no one will remember this game outside of Chicago, anyway.
2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson returns to action
A lot of star players have been hurt this year, including perennial AL MVP candidate Mike Trout, who just went on the disabled list for the first time ever in his career. But 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is still on the DL, for example. The good news is that Toronto’s Josh Donaldson returned to action over the weekend after missing several weeks with a leg problem.
It was nice to see the 2015 AL MVP stroke a strong double to the outfield wall in his first game back, and after finishing among the Top 6 players in baseball in each of the past four seasons (according to Wins-Above-Replacement valuation), hopefully Donaldson can pick up right where he left off.
Orioles have a very, very bad week
Baltimore beat New York on Monday night to end a seven-game losing streak, which had extended throughout last week. On May 20, the Orioles were in first place with a 25-16 record. When the sun rose on Memorial Day, the Orioles were 25-23 and in third place, trailing the Yankees by 4.5 games in the standings. What happened?!
That 14-7 loss to Minnesota was the lowlight of the week for Baltimore, as it resembled a football score (maybe Vikings 14, Colts 7, right?). Including those seven runs, the Os scored just 17 runs in the seven straight losses, though, demonstrating that even a first-place team will lose when it cannot score enough runs to win.
Astros making a mockery of the AL West right now
The last three Orioles losses came against the Houston Astros, the team with the best record in baseball. That explains something, and it’s worth noting that the ‘Stros are streaking themselves, onward and upward. Including a big Monday win which we will feature here next week, Houston is now 36-16, a whopping 20 games over .500 already, and that brings along with it an 11-game lead in the AL West Division.
Houston tossed two team shutouts last week, including a 2-0 victory over the Orioles on Saturday night. The Astros have a plus-74 run differential right now, which is the best in the AL and second only to the Dodgers overall in MLB. Houston has never won the World Series, but perhaps this is the year for the ‘Stros to do it.