MLB In Full Bloom - King Felix Outduels Jon Lester - 9/4/2014

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Felix Hernandez was, well, Felix Hernandez again and when he’s like that the Mariners don’t lose very often, particularly to the Oakland Athletics. Hernandez tossed eight innings, allowing just one run on three hits and the Mariners got just enough offense against Jon Lester — back-to-back solo homers from Kyle Seager and Corey Hart — to pull out a 2-1 win. As a result, the Mariners took two of three from the wild-card leading A’s. Hernandez improved to 14-5 this season and is 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in his last 11 starts at O.co Coliseum, dating to 2011. In his career, he’s 19-7 with a 2.35 ERA in 35 starts against the A’s. Hernandez’s lone mistake came in the fourth inning to Adam Dunn. He left a 3-2 fastball on the inside half of the plate. Dunn turned on it and belted a towering solo homer to right field. It was his second homer in three games since joining the A’s. King Felix will enjoy a two-start week next week, with the first coming Monday against the Astros.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

MLB In Full Bloom - Jose Altuve Is an MVP Candidate - 9/3/2014

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If the Houston Astros were in contention for a playoff spot this year, second baseman Jose Altuve, who leads the major leagues with a .340 average, would be my choice for American League MVP. On Tuesday night, Altuve went 4-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored in the Astros' 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels.  This was Altuve's ninth career four-hit game and second in as many nights. The home run was Altuve's seventh of the year, tying a career high, and he also stole his American League-best 50th base. For good measure, Altuve now has a 10-game hitting streak going. Altuve leads all of baseball with 193 hits and he is on pace to have 220+ hits. The second-baseman has MVP numbers, but unfortunately he plays for the Astros.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Clayton Kershaw threw eight innings of one-run ball in Tuesday's victory over the Washington Nationals to become baseball's first 17-game winner this season and notched his fifth consecutive victory. The left-hander racked up eight strikeouts and allowing only three hits. Kershaw allowed only a seventh inning  Bryce Harper homer. Kershaw has given up more than three earned runs just once all season. Kershaw allowed one run in a start in March, missed April, had a 4.08 ERA in May, a 0.82 ERA in June, a 1.07 ERA in July, and a 1.80 ERA in August. Kershaw is a heavy favorite to win his third Cy Young Award, and is also a strong MVP candidate. Overall, he's 17-3 with a 1.70 ERA.
  • Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run home run, his 35th of the season, as the Marlins lost to the Mets on Tuesday. Stanton went 2-for-4 while breaking the 100-RBI plateau for the first time in his impressive career. Stanton continues to bolster his MVP resume as the Marlins fight to remain in the playoff hunt, posting a monstrous .293/.401/.561 slash with 85 runs, 35 home runs and 101 RBI over 137 games this season.
  • Jarrod Dyson stole three bases and scored the game-winning run as the Royals edged the Rangers 2-1 on Tuesday. The steals gave Dyson 33 stolen bases on the season. Owners desperately looking for steals in the season's final month could do worse than adding Dyson to their roster.
  • Billy Hamilton went 2-for-4 with a walk and stole his 55th base, setting a Reds rookie record, in Tuesday's loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Hamilton wasted no time stealing the base after reaching on an infield single in the first inning, then swiping second base. He then went for stolen base number 56 but was thrown out at third base.
  • Anthony Rizzo (back) is out indefinitely and would be on the disabled list if the rosters didn't expand at the start of September. Rizzo left last Tuesday's game with lower back tightness, and his return date has been pushed back multiple times. His availability for the remainder of the season in doubt. Chris Valaika has taken on the duties at first base in his absence, and should continue to do so until he returns.
  • Cory Spangenberg hit a pinch-hit, walk-off homer in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 2-1 win against the Diamondbacks. Spangenberg, promoted from Double-A San Antonio on Tuesday, rapped a two-run single in his major league debut Monday to push the Padres to a 3-1 victory over the D'Backs. In so doing, he became the third player in club history to have multiple RBI in his debut. Twenty-four hours later, he took veteran Brad Ziegler deep to end the game. The 23-year-old, the 10th overall pick in 2011, posted an impressive .331 batting line earlier this year in the minors. Everyday playing time isn't guaranteed, but he is worth a flier in all NL-only formats.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers had been in first place for 132 days until falling out of the top spot a couple days ago. After a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night, the Brewers now trail the St. Louis Cardinals by 2 games in the National League Central. The Brewers are tied with the San Francisco Giants for the Wild Card lead in the NL.

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