The Dodgers have an enormous NL West least and rosters expand Sunday, so giving Ryu a September breather should be a piece of cake. They can skip a start(s), give him extra rest, shorten his outings, whatever. Clearly though, Ryu could use a bit of a break. He’s looked gassed the last three times out.
As for the Mets, they have now lost six straight games — all at home — and been swept in back-to-back series by the Braves and Cubs. New York has been out of the NL East race for weeks now. This series was a chance to gain ground on the Cubs for the second wild-card spot. Instead, the sweep leaves them five games behind Chicago.
“That is as large a body blow as the Mets have taken this season,” Mets announcer Gary Cohen said during the SNY broadcast. Caratini is the first player with two homers in one game against deGrom since Mitch Garver in April, and only the second since Giancarlo Stanton in 2016. 

Baseball scores for Thursday, Aug. 29

Caratini crushes deGrom, leads Cubs to sweep

Yes, Detroit has perhaps the worst offense in all of baseball, but those are numbers are impressive in any context. They also continue what’s been a dominant-when-healthy 2019 for the 28-year-old right-hander. He’s now made 15 starts (he’s missed time with back and ankle injuries), and over that span he’s pitched to a 2.72 ERA with no unearned runs allowed and 123 strikeouts against 26 walks. He’s struck out 36.2 percent of opposing batters, and if Clevinger had a qualifying number of innings that figure would lead all of MLB. 
Clevinger entered this season with an ERA+ of 132, so it’s not like he came from nowhere. Still, he’s added velocity by tweaking his mechanics to recruit more of his lower half while at the same time taking a little more off his changeup to create elite velocity separation relative to the 96 mph fastball. On top of all that, Clevinger’s slider has taken the next step and now features two-plane movement.  Chicago’s usually shaky bullpen shut the Mets down following Caratini’s homer — 18 of the final 20 Mets hitters made outs — to close out the sweep. The Cubs have won three straight games and are now 1 1/2 games behind the idle Cardinals in the NL Central. They are 2 1/2 games behind the Nationals for the top wild-card spot and 2 1/2 games up on the Phillies for the second wild-card spot. Meanwhile, in Houston, the Rays and Astros played a back and forth game of their own. At one point the Astros scored in six consecutive innings. The Rays rolled through seven pitchers and their offense hung five runs on Zack Greinke in 5 2/3 innings. The top five hitters in Tampa’s lineup, including cleanup hitter Ji-Man Choi, had two hits apiece. Choi’s two-run double put the Rays up for good in the seventh inning.
It has been quite a month for Reds rookie Aristides Aquino. He has already set records for the most home runs through 12 games, 14 games, 16 games, 17 games, and 22 games, as well as through 100 plate appearances.
Despite the recent slump, Ryu is still sitting on a 2.35 ERA for the season, which leads baseball. He’s also thrown 157 1/3 innings on the season, his biggest workload since throwing 192 innings as a rookie in 2013. Not surprisingly, the Dodgers are considering limiting Ryu’s workload down the stretch, reports ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez.

Clevinger keeps rolling for Tribe

The Indians, Athletics, and Rays are all competing for the two American League wild-card spots with the Red Sox, who have seven wins in their last 10 games, on the periphery. Here are the wild-card standings following Thursday’s action (the Red Sox were idle): With that home run, Aquino set a new record for home runs in a single month by a National League rookie. Cody Bellinger held the previous record with 13 in June 2017. Also, Aquino tied the franchise’s record for homers in a month.
Ryu allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Yankees the last time out. In the start before that, he gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Braves. Ryu has allowed 18 runs in his last three starts after giving up 18 runs in his previous 19 starts.
The all-time rookie record for home runs in a month belongs to seven-time All-Star Rudy York. He swatted 18 home runs in August 1937 with the Tigers. Aquino has three more games remaining this month. Can he catch York? Hey, don’t put it past him.

AL wild-card contenders all win

Prior to the game Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including’s Jordan Bastian, that he felt Caratini had “a chance to really move the ball, probably (be) less of a strikeout threat” against deGrom, and that he was. The two homers came on nearly identical pitches — sliders up in the zone and on the inner half. The Cleveland ace? Yeah, he is. Corey Kluber has been limited to seven starts because of a forearm fracture, Carlos Carrasco is on the verge of his return from a battle with leukemia (he’ll likely be in the bullpen), and Trevor Bauer has been traded. Shane Bieber is obviously in the discussion thanks to his rate-based excellence and innings load, but Clevinger has been on a level by himself lately. He’s a big reason why the Indians, despite all that rotation upheaval, remain strongly in the mix for a postseason berth. Aquino made more history Thursday night with his 14th home run in his 28th big league game. He took Marlins righty Robert Duggar deep out to left field. To the action footage:

  1. Indians: 79-55 (+1.5 GB)
  2. Athletics: 77-56
  3. Rays: 77-58 (1 GB)
  4. Red Sox: 72-62 (5 1/2 GB)

Here’s Mike Clevinger’s work against the Tigers on Thursday: 

Ryu struggles again for Dodgers

As noted, Clevinger and the Indians bested the Tigers on Thursday afternoon. The Athletics outlasted the Royals in a wild back and forth game that saw Kansas City bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth. Jurickson Profar had three hits, including his 17th home run, and rookie Seth Brown went 4 for 5 with a double in just his fourth MLB game. The Twins won Thursday afternoon as well, so Cleveland remains 3 1/2 games back in the AL Central.
It appears Hyun-Jin Ryu is hitting a second half wall. The Diamondbacks tagged Ryu for a season-high-tying seven runs in 4 2/3 innings Thursday night, his third straight subpar start. Eleven of the final 16 batters he faced reached base Thursday.
Thursday brings us a less-than-full 10-game slate, but the schedule still includes some high-stakes encounters. Games with possible playoff implications will go down in Detroit, Kansas City, Houston, Chicago, and Queens. Let’s jump in. 

Aquino sets another home run record

In the series finale Thursday, Cubs backup catcher Victor Caratini clubbed not one, but two home runs against the great Jacob deGrom. Cartini’s second inning homer tied the game 1-1. His seventh inning three-run homer gave the Cubs the lead. The video: The Cubs put to rest any concerns about their ability to win on the road this week. The Cubbies went into Citi Field and swept three games from the formerly red-hot Mets, one of the teams chasing them in the wild-card race.  Select games can be streamed regionally via fuboTV (Try for free). For more on what channel each game is on, click here.
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