Dodgers reserve second baseman Chase Utley has been suspended for Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS for his “illegal” takeout slide during Game 2, which caused Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada to suffer a broken fibula. The Dodgers would play a man short in Games 3 and 4, but Utley plans to appeal the suspension, which means he’s eligible to play until the appeals process completes.
Utley struck out as a pinch-hitter against Jacob deGrom in Game 1, then singled to put runners on first and third to chase Noah Syndergaard from Game 2 in the seventh inning. He would come around to score on Adrian Gonzalez’s two-run double, which broke a 2-2 tie.
Utley had jogged off the field after his collision with Tejada. However, the play was reviewed on the grounds of a force play – Tejada’s foot wasn’t on the second base bag while he had the baseball – rather than the unreviewable neighborhood play. Utley was ruled safe and granted his retreat to second base. The Dodgers scored the tying run on the play.
MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre cited Rule 5.09 (a)(13), which says, “The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.”
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Blue Jays avoid elimination
Down two games to none and facing elimination on Sunday, the Blue Jays defeated the Rangers 5-1 at Globe Life Park. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning and slugged a three-run homer in the sixth, providing all of the offense his team would need to win.
Starter Marco Estrada tossed six scoreless innings before slowing down in the seventh. He yielded back-to-back one-out singles before departing. Lefty Aaron Loup allowed one of the inherited runners to score on a Rougned Odor ground out, and Mark Lowe finished the inning with a strikeout of Robinson Chirinos.
Aaron Sanchez pitched a dominant eighth inning, hitting the upper 90’s with his fastball and recording a strikeout in the process. Closer Roberto Osuna, pitching in a non-save situation, set the Rangers down in 1-2-3 fashion to finish out the game.
Keuchel pitches Astros to 2-1 ALDS lead
Dallas Keuchel tossed seven innings of one-run ball in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Royals on Sunday, staking the Astros to a 2-1 ALDS lead. The lone run he allowed came on Lorenzo Cain’s solo home run to left field in the fourth inning, serving as one of five hits he allowed along with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Chris Carter went 3-for-3 with a single, a double, and a solo home run. The homer extended the Astros’ lead to 4-1 in the seventh inning.
Colby Rasmus drew three walks, then singled when his towering fly ball clanked off of the Minute Paid Park roof. According to the stadium’s specific ground rules, the ball was in play because the ball was over fair territory when it struck the roof. Had a Royal defender caught the ball before it touched down, Rasmus would have been retired.
On the Royals’ side, Edinson Volquez started well in Sunday’s start, but was ultimately on the hook for three runs on five hits and four walks with eight strikeouts across 5 2/3 innings.
Outfielder Alex Gordon hit a solo home run off of Astros closer Luke Gregerson to lead off the ninth inning in an attempt to spark a comeback. Gregerson, however, held on for a four-out save as the Astros won 4-2.
Hamilton ends post-season hitless streak
Josh Hamilton ended his post-season hitless streak, which spanned 31 at-bats, when he singled to right field in the bottom of the fifth inning against Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada. Hamilton, however, was stranded at first base. He singled again in the seventh inning. His last hit in the playoffs, prior to Sunday, came in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, an RBI double in the top of the first inning against the Cardinals.
Hamilton, 34, was sent to the Rangers from the Angels at the end of April this year after Angels owner Arte Moreno and then-GM Jerry DiPoto made some publicly unsupportive comments of Hamilton, who suffered a drug relapse.
Hamilton posted a .253/.291/.441 triple-slash line with eight home runs and 25 RBI in 182 plate appearances with the Rangers during the regular season. He had cleanup surgery in his left knee, which had been bothering him for much of the second half. Earlier in the season, he suffered a hamstring strain and he had surgery in February on his right shoulder.
Rasmus stays hot
Mentioned above, Rasmus drew three walks and hit a single in four trips to the plate, helping the Astros beat the Royals in Game 3 of the ALDS. The outfielder is currently hitting .500 with three homers, a double, six walks, and five RBI in 16 trips to the plate in the playoffs this year.
Rasmus, 29, posted a respectable .238/.314/.475 triple-slash line with 25 homers and 61 RBI in 485 PA during the regular season. The Astros haven’t strictly used him in a platoon role, and perhaps with good reason as he has oddly compiled better numbers against same-handed pitching compared to opposite-handed, .835 to .770 in terms of OPS.
The biggest flaw in Rasmus’ game, as with many of his teammates, is his propensity to strike out. He fanned 154 times in 485 PA, a 31.75% rate. That served as the second-highest rate in baseball during the regular season among hitters who stepped to the plate at least 450 times. He trailed only teammate Chris Carter (32.8%). But as long as Rasmus is producing the way he has been, with homers and walks, the Astros will happily accept the trade-off.
National League Quick Hits: Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley passed a concussion test following his collision with Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in NLDS Game 2 … The Mets promoted middle infielder Matt Reynolds to take Tejada’s spot on the playoff roster … Mets manager Terry Collins confirmed that lefty Steven Matz will start NLDS Game 4 for the Mets … The Cardinals are considering starting John Lackey on short rest against the Cubs in Game 4 of the NLDS … Pitcher J.A. Happ expressed interest in returning to the Pirates for the 2016 season.
American League Quick Hits: Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin was a no-show at the team’s instructional league in Surprise, Arizona … Carlos Gomez (intercostal) hit an RBI single in Sunday’s victory over the Royals in Game 3 of the ALDS … Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar singled twice out of the leadoff spot in Sunday’s Game 3 loss to the Astros … Catcher Jason Castro picked up a pair of RBI with a single, aiding in the Astros’ win over the Royals in Game 3 on Sunday … Adrian Beltre (back) was again held out of the Rangers’ starting lineup for Game 3 on Sunday.