Triple play helps Dodgers edge Padres

734844.jpg

Triple play helps Dodgers edge Padres

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Matt Kemp called it "very weird." Chase Headley described it as a "crazy occurrence." Nearly everyone was shaking their heads after the Los Angeles Dodgers turned a bizarre triple play in the top of the ninth inning before Dee Gordon singled home the winning run in the bottom half of a 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday. It was 4-all when the Dodgers turned their first triple play since June 13, 1998, against Colorado. Chris Denorfia led off with a single against Javy Guerra (1-0) and Headley walked. Jesus Guzman squared to bunt, but the pitch came high and tight and hit his bat as he backed away. The ball landed in front of the plate and catcher A.J. Ellis alertly picked it up and threw to third. "I was very confident I heard it hit the bat. I didn't hear anything from the umpire behind me," he said. Guzman, startled by what happened, didn't run to first base, which made it easy for third baseman Juan Uribe to relay to shortstop Gordon at second base. In turn, he threw to James Loney to complete the triple play. "As soon as I got the ball to Juan and nobody was running I said, This is going to be a triple play,'" Ellis said. "They were sure it was a foul ball and we were sure it was a bunted ball." Padres manager Bud Black came out to argue with plate umpire and crew chief Dale Scott, who ejected him. "It happened so fast," said Black, who thought he heard two sounds when the ball hit the bat. "It sounded funny." He came into the clubhouse and watched a replay. "There's not many times where a ball headed for the face turns into a triple play," Black said. "I looked at the take, and it was a fair ball." Headley saw Scott's hands go up and believed the umpire was signaling that the ball hit the bat, then hit him in the batter's box, making it a foul ball. "When he throws his hands up like that, it's supposed to be a foul ball. I told him that five times. He said that he was just trying to get out of the way," Headley said. "He wasn't just sticking his hands up. He waved them, and to me, that means foul ball, regardless of whether it hit him or didn't hit him. That's irrelevant." Scott told a pool reporter that the umpiring crew didn't see the ball hit the batter. "It was off the bat and then straight down," he said. "We saw several angles, including the replay here and we also called in and asked for the replay from New York and looked at that. The ball went straight down and I thought it hit the bat. I heard bat. "I moved out of the way of the catcher, and now all of sudden, I have two bodies in front of me. I didn't see where the ball was. I saw it trickle in front of the plate. Without having seen it hit, I have to assume that's a fair ball." First base umpire Bill Miller confirmed that the ball was momentarily foul before it rolled fair again. Scott said as long as the ball isn't touched it's fair. "There was nothing verbal (from the umpire), so I just picked it up and started throwing," Ellis said. "You keep playing and don't assume anything." The Dodgers improved to 9-1, the best mark in the major leagues and equaling their best start since opening the 1981 season with the same record. Kemp hit his fourth homer in three games as the Dodgers sent San Diego to its fourth loss in a row. The Dodgers won the series opener Friday night when the winning run was forced in on a bases-loaded walk. "I'm proud of my guys," he said. "We're finding ways to win. Whatever it is, we're getting it done." The Dodgers had the same situation in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second and nobody out, with Juan Uribe in a sacrifice situation against Brad Brach (0-1). Uribe successfully got the bunt down and Ellis was intentionally walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. fouled out before Gordon slapped an 0-2 pitch to left field, setting off a wild celebration between first and second base. Gordon had struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh and earlier committed an error. "I shouldn't have put (Clayton) Kershaw in the spot. That's on me," Gordon said. "I was glad I could come through for him." A joyous Kemp tackled Gordon, leading to a dog pile of players. "I had to get my licks in," Kemp said. The Dodgers gave Kershaw to a 4-1 lead. But Josh Lindblom gave up a tying two-run single to pinch-hitter Jeremy Hermida in the sixth, leaving last year's NL Cy Young winner with his third no-decision in as many starts. The Dodgers improved to 6-0 at home with their ninth straight win against San Diego at Dodger Stadium. San Diego tied it at 4 with three runs in the sixth. Orlando Hudson had a bases-loaded RBI single through the hole past Gordon to finish Kershaw, and Hermida hit a bases-loaded single. Kershaw allowed four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out three and walked three. The left-hander's three earned runs were the most he's allowed since last Aug. 7, a span of 11 starts. "We were just a little bit off the rhythm and timing," Ellis said. "He'll bounce back and be ready to go." Padres starter Edinson Volquez gave up four runs and six hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked five. NOTES: The Dodgers swept a six-game homestand for the first time since the opening homestand of the 2009 season, when they swept the Giants and Rockies in six games. ... Volquez hasn't reached the sixth inning in either of his two starts against the Dodgers this season. .. Padres C Nick Hundley snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a single in the third. His drought was the longest to start a season by a Padres non-pitcher since Ozzie Smith's club record 0-for-32 stretch in 1979. ... Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully returned to the booth after missing five days with a bad cold. "I'm just going to give thanks that I'm here," the 84-year-old said. ... Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul took his 2-year-old son to the youngster's first major league game.

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

BOSTON – With his new head coach Brad Stevens and Boston Celtics ownership and front office officials surrounding him, Jayson Tatum’s mind seemed to be somewhere else briefly.

He looked ahead, way, way ahead to the other end of the Celtics’ practice court where there were banners, lots of banners, raised high above all else in the gym.

This wasn’t just a passing glance, either.

TATUM SPEAKS

It was clear that the newest Celtic was in deep thought as he stared at the 17 banners and the one left blank, a steady reminder of what this franchise is about, past and present.

Yes, it’s a lot to soak in for anyone let alone a 19-year-old kid whose career with the Celtics can be timed on a stopwatch.

But the soft-spoken 6-foot-9 forward has been here long enough to understand that success around here is about more than playing well; it’s playing to win a championship.

And that in many ways separates Tatum from his teenage brethren who made up the majority of Thursday night’s NBA draft which included an NBA-record 17 players taken in the first round who like Tatum, were just one year removed from high school.

All come into the NBA with lots to learn, as well as goals and aspirations for this upcoming NBA season.

During an interview with CSN on Friday, I asked Tatum about what in his mind would make for a successful season.

And his answer initially was to ask me a question, “Individual or team?”

So I replied, either one.

“To get back to where they were last year and get over that hump,” he said. “Championships, chasing that number 18, that would be the ultimate success for me.”

That served as a reminder as to why despite having a handful of players under consideration at No. 3, the Celtics did the right thing in selecting Tatum.

His words may seem like the politically correct response, but take a look at the kid’s basketball resume and you’ll quickly see he is indeed about winning and doing so in whatever way possible.

After missing his first eight games at Duke with a foot injury, Tatum gradually improved as the season progressed and wound up on the all-rookie team as well as being named to the All-ACC third team.

Once the Blue Devils got to the ACC Tournament, Tatum became a different, better, more dominant player.

Indeed, Tatum led the Blue Devils to their first ACC championship since 2011 and did so in historic fashion as the Blue Devils became the first ACC school to win the conference tournament with four wins in four days.

Late in the title game against Notre Dame, Tatum put together a sequence of plays that speaks to why the Celtics were seriously considering taking him with the number one overall pick had they not been able to trade it for the No. 3 and a future first-round pick.

With the scored tied at 65, Tatum made a free throw that put Duke ahead.

Moments later, he blocked a shot and finished off the play with a lay-up that gave Duke a three-point lead.

After a Notre Dame basket, Tatum connected with a teammate for a 3-pointer that pushed Duke’s lead to four points with around a minute to play.

And then there was the 3-point play Tatum converted after getting fouled on a dunk which secured a 76-69 Duke win over the Fighting Irish.

Free throws. Blocks. Getting out in transition. Passing.

When his team needed him most, he gave whatever was required at that moment which is one of the intangibles that makes Boston feel good about his future.

“He does whatever he has to do to help you win,” said an NBA scout who said he has seen Tatum play “at least a dozen times.”

He added, “Like all of these kids coming into the league now, he has some things he has to get better at, get more consistent with. But he makes winning plays, whether it’s for himself or others. He’s a lot more unselfish a player than he’s given credit for being.”

And he’s 19 years old, which is both a blessing and a burden when you’re an NBA team executive charged with committing at least two years and millions of dollars into a young man.

Part of the process when making a draft choice, especially when it’s one of the top picks, is character evaluation.

Of the players at or near the top of the draft board, multiple league executives contacted by CSNNE.com in the past couple of weeks said this was an area where Tatum stood out in comparison to all of the top prospects.

“He’s the kind of young man you’d love whether he was a basketball player or not,” one Western Conference executive told CSNNE.com. “If you’re ranking guys on character alone in this draft, he’s your number one pick.”

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, acknowledged the challenge of differentiating between miscues made by a teenager as being problems of concern going forward, or whether that’s a teenager making the kind of bad/questionable decisions most teens make.

“It’s dangerous to play too much into a 19-year-old kid’s behavior,” Ainge told CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper on Friday. “But I think that, with all the things we do, from physical, emotional, mental, character, work ethic and their skills … it’s just really hard at 19. You hate to just be labeled what you are at 18.”

But in regards to Tatum specifically, Ainge added, “Jayson is a high character guy. We know he will get better because of his character and his work ethic.”

Said Tatum: “It’s a great feeling. Being part of a great organization like the Celtics; think of all the great players of the past and you can follow in their footsteps.”

And in doing so, blaze a trail of his own in the pursuit of Banner 18.

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

red_sox_david_price_062417.jpg

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."