After throwing a successful bullpen session on Friday and receiving clearance from the Dodgers’ medical staff, Clayton Kershaw made his triumphant return to the rotation against the Reds on Sunday.
He’s been sidelined for the past two weeks due to a right hip impingement. At one point, it appeared that he may have been heading for season-ending surgery to repair the issue, but he was able to make tremendous progress over the past few days.
Making his first start since September 11, Kershaw looked a bit rusty in Sunday’s no-decision. He allowed one run on five hits over his five innings of work. He also issued five walks on the evening while striking out five, throwing only 52 of his 92 pitches for strikes.
With the Dodgers still clinging to their hope of sneaking into the postseason, they’ll certainly need their ace to deliver down the stretch. If he returns to pitching every fifth day, Kershaw will make two more starts before the end of the regular season. He’d pitch against the Rockies at home on Friday, then do battle against the Giants at home in the season finale on October 3.
Scherzer Struggles in Return
Max Scherzer struggled in his return to the Tigers’ rotation on Sunday, allowing three runs on six hits over his five innings in a losing effort against the Twins. He also walked four while striking out one in the game.
The worrying sign was that his velocity was still noticeably down, showing that his recent shoulder weakness is still a major issue. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers handle his situation moving forward. They’re a game behind the White Sox in their race for the AL Central Division title, and he’s been far and away their second best starter on the season.
As long as he can pitch through the pain and isn’t risking any further damage to his shoulder, he’ll take on the Twins in Minnesota next weekend. Even at less than 100%, he may be the best option that Tigers have.
Santana Shines in Victory Over Royals
Carlos Santana shined bright in Sunday’s victory over the Royals, going 3-for-6 with a pair of homers, three runs scored and five RBI.
His first blast was a two-run bomb, and the first career homer surrendered by Jake Odorizzi. He then added a three-run shot off Luis Coleman as part of the Tribe’s seven-run ninth inning.
He’s been on an absolute tear since the All-Star break, hitting .294 (70-for-238) with 13 homers and 45 RBI over 67 games. Also impressive is the 34/35 BB/K rate that he’s posted over that time frame. Still only 26-years-old, Santana certainly possesses the talent and the dynamic skill-set to become the best offensive catcher in all of baseball. He’ll be an extremely popular name on draft boards heading into the 2013 season.
National League Quick Hits: Dusty Baker has been released from the hospital, and is likely to resume his managerial duties against the Brewers on Tuesday… Michael Cuddyer has begun hitting in the batting cage, but is still a long shot to return this season… Yusmeiro Petit made a spot start against the Padres on Sunday, pushing Tim Lincecum back to Tuesday to give him an extra day of rest… Chris Johnson is expected to remain the Diamondbacks starting third baseman next season… Even with his recent struggles, Tommy Hanson will remain in the Braves rotation down the stretch… Yadier Molina sat out Sunday’s contest due to lower back spasms… The Mets are considering shutting down closer Frank Francisco for the remainder of the season after he had a setback with his right elbow on Saturday… Miguel Montero finally got a day of rest on Sunday after starting 20 consecutive games for the Diamondbacks… Carlos Beltran missed Sunday’s contest due to an illness, but is expected to return in a day or two… Justin Ruggiano is out indefinitely with a sprained right shoulder… Giancarlo Stanton missed his sixth consecutive game with an intercostal strain, but believes that he’s making progress… Craig Kimbrel notched his 39th save of the season in a win over the Phillies, and now owns a remarkable 1.08 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 106/14 K/BB ratio in 58 1/3 innings on the season… David Wright blasted his 19th homer in a victory over the Marlins… With a pair of runs scored on Sunday, Ryan Braun became the first player in Brewers’ history to reach 100 runs and RBI in four consecutive seasons… A.J. Burnett struck out 11 Astros en route to his 16th victory of the season… Alfonso Soriano smashed a solo homer, giving him 31 bombs and 105 RBI on the season… Jose Altuve was forced to leave Sunday’s game against the Pirates with groin tightness, and is considered day-to-day… Jason Motte recorded his NL-leading 40th save on Sunday, giving him five saves on the week… Matt Holliday confirmed that he’s been dealing with lower back tightness, but expects to continue playing through the injury… Huston Street earned his 22nd save in his first action since returning from the DL… Shane Victorino (wrist) is expected to return to the Dodger’s lineup on Tuesday… Hanley Ramirez was removed from Sunday’s game after fouling a pitch off his left foot… Adrian Gonzalez blasted a pair of homers in a victory over the Reds, giving him just three bombs in 27 games with the Dodgers.
American League Quick Hits: The Red Sox have talked internally about re-signing James Loney after this season, and he’s apparently “receptive to coming back”… Jacoby Ellsbury was a late scratch from the Red Sox lineup, missing his third consecutive start with an undisclosed injury… Salvador Perez missed his third consecutive game with two bruised hands, but fully expects to return to the lineup on Monday… Dylan Bundy made his long-anticipated MLB debut on Sunday, retiring both Red Sox hitters he faced… Felix Doubront racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts in a no-decision against the Orioles… Chad Jenkins allowed just one run on two hits over five innings of work in his first career start… Jake Odorizzi surrendered three runs in 5 1/3 innings in his MLB debut… Jose Valverde surrendered a run in the 10th inning, taking a difficult loss as the Tigers were swept by the Twins in Sunday’s doubleheader… Albert Pujols had three hits and two RBI on Sunday, reaching the 100 RBI plateau for the 11th time in his 12-year career… Grant Balfour recorded his 20th save as the Athletics topped the Yankees… Fernando Rodney notched his 44th save, and now owns an electrifying 0.64 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 69/14 K/BB ratios in what has become one of the greatest (and most unexpected) seasons by any reliever in major league history… The Angels turned to three separate relievers (Garrett Richards, Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri) to each record an out in the ninth inning against the White Sox on Friday, making it so none of them earned a save in the process of protecting a 4-1 lead… Jared Weaver notched his 19th victory, twirling 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball as the Angels swept the White Sox in Anaheim.