Kershaw Chases Perfection Against Angels

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Regardless of what team you root for, you have to admire the greatness that is Clayton Kershaw. Arguably the best pitcher of this generation, he was up to something special on Friday against the Angels. For the second time this season, Kershaw was perfect through seven innings. The 34-year-old left-hander had completed seven perfect innings with 13 strikeouts against the Twins in his first start this season on April 13. He was infamously pulled at 80 pitches that day. This time around, Kershaw got through the first 21 batters on 71 pitches and took the mound for the eighth. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Luis Rengifo knocked a double to left field to break to end the bid for perfection. He recorded the final three outs in the frame, finishing with eight shutout innings and six strikeouts with just one baserunner allowed. Big nights at the plate from Justin Turner and Will Smith helped lead the Dodgers to their 9-1 victory. With a 2.13 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 75 strikeouts over 71 2/3 innings, it seems only right for Kershaw to start Tuesday's All-Star game in Dodger Stadium coming off the incredible outing in Anaheim.

Julio Rodríguez and Robbie Ray carry Mariners to 12th consecutive win

We go from an established legend to one that is just getting started. Julio Rodríguez helped lift the Mariners over the Rangers on Friday for their 12th consecutive win. The 21-year-old outfielder went 2-for-5 at the plate, knocking in a run with a base hit in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded in the eighth, he took José Leclerc deep for a grand slam to extend the Seattle lead. Rodríguez is in the middle of one of the best rookie season's in history, hitting .275/.335/.479 with 16 homers and 21 steals across 370 plate appearances. A 30/30 campaign is realistic at this point. The sky is the limit for the budding superstar. Meanwhile, Robbie Ray was excellent on the mound, striking out 12 batters with three runs allowed over 6 2/3 innings. The 30-year-old left-hander winner ends his outing with a 3.54 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 135 strikeouts over 117 innings.

Hitters with an EDGE

Matt Chapman vs. Royals
3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI

After knocking a single in the second inning, Chapman broke the game open with a three-run homer off of Carlos Hernandez in the fifth. He added another base hit in the seventh for his third hit. It was his second consecutive game with a homer and fourth in July. The 29-year-old third baseman is hitting .226/.300/.428 with 15 homers and 45 RBI across 333 plate appearances. After posting strikeout rates over 30 percent in the last two seasons, he has that number down to a manageable 25.2 percent while posting a 51.2 percent hard-hit rate. His flyball tendencies will continue to suppress his batting average, but more power could be coming for Chapman.

Matt Olson vs. Nationals
3-for-5, 1 R, 3 RBI

Olson had a big game against the Nationals, knocking thee hits while driving in three of the Braves' eight runs. He put Atlanta on the board early with a single in the first that scored Dansby Swanson from second base. Base hits in the second and fourth would bring two more runs in. The 28-year-old first baseman isn't quite having the same season he put up last year, but he's still producing a solid .256/.342/.483 triple-slash with 16 homers and 56 RBI across 406 plate appearances.

Will Smith vs. Angels
4-for-4, 3B, 2B, 3 R, RBI, BB

Smith was perfect at the plate on Friday, reaching base in all five plate appearances. He started with two singles and a walk early on before driving in a run with a double off of Austin Warren in the sixth inning. With two outs in the eighth, he hammered a triple to right field before scoring on a base hit by Justin Turner. The 27-year-old has been one of the best offensive catchers this season, hitting .276/.368/.485 with 14 homers and 47 RBI across 315 plate appearances. You'll take that from many catchers over a full season.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Sandy Alcantara vs. Phillies
8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 12 K
23 Swinging strikes, 34% CSW

Alcantara was brilliant against the Phillies, going at least eight innings for the ninth time this season. He did not allow a hit through four innings and faced the minimum through six. Philadelphia would finally get to him in the seventh for a run and added a second in the eighth. Unfortunately, he couldn't come away with the win after getting just one run of support. Alcantara tossed 75-of-106 pitches for strikes and induced 23 whiffs to strike out 12 batters. The 26-year-old right-hander will take an outstanding 1.76 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 123 strikeouts across 138 1/3 innings into the All-Star break.

Kyle Gibson vs. Marlins
6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K
7 Swinging strikes, 19% CSW

If Alcantara couldn't get the win Friday, it was because Gibson held the Marlins to only one run through six innings. That one run came in the second inning. A walk and a double put a runner on third base before Bryan De La Cruz hit a sacrifice fly to put Miami on the board. Gibson was otherwise excellent, throwing 61-of-96 pitches for strikes while collecting five punchouts and inducing soft contact all game. The 34-year-old right-hander ends the outing with a 4.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 80 strikeouts across 97 1/3 innings.

Alek Manoah vs. Royals
7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K
17 Swinging strikes, 28% CSW

Manoah had one of his better starts this season with seven innings of one-run ball against the Royals. The one run would come on a base hit by Nicky Lopez in the fifth. The 24-year-old right-hander was otherwise excellent, tossing an efficient 63-of-86 pitches for strikes while issuing zero walks. He generated 17 whiffs on the day to collect six strikeouts. Manoah ends the first half with ten wins, a 2.28 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 103 strikeouts over 114 2/3 innings.

Priority Pickup

Max Meyer, SP, Marlins -- Available in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues

Meyer will be making his much-anticipated debut with the Marlins on Saturday. He's set to take the mound for his first major league start against the Phillies after posting a 3.72 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 65 strikeouts across 58 innings in Triple-A. The 23-year-old right-hander is one of baseball's top pitching prospects, highly touted for his excellent fastball-slider combination that generates plenty of swing-and-miss. And the Marlins have earned a reputation for developing a changeup, which if Meyer can continue to improve, will only help him unlock his ace potential. This could be one of the last opportunities this season to acquire a difference-making pitcher on the waiver wire.

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Closing Time

With a one-run lead in the ninth inning, Seranthony Domínguez almost let the game slip away against the Marlins. He issued three walks to load the bases with one out before Jesus Sanchez grounded into a force out at home. Dominguez got Miguel Rojas to strike out swinging for the third out to record his fourth save.

Brooks Raley took the mound in the ninth for the Rays with a one-run lead. He made quick work of the Orioles, retiring all three batters on 12 pitches for his sixth save.

With Emmanuel Clase taking the day off after pitching in three-of-four games, Trevor Stephan got the call to close it out in the ninth against the Tigers. He struck out the final two batters in a perfect inning to record his second save.

The Braves took a seven-run lead into the ninth inning before Will Smith surrendered three runs and left with two runners on base and two outs. A.J. Minter came in to record the final out, getting Keibert Ruiz to strike out swinging to end the game.

Ryan Brasier helped the Red Sox beat the Yankees in extra innings. After Boston took a one-run lead in the eleventh inning, he needed just 12 pitches to strike out two batters and close it out for his first save this season.

With the Cardinals up four runs in the ninth against the Reds, Génesis Cabrera allowed three hits to load the bases. Ryan Helsley came in to extinguish the threat, leaving all three runners stranded as he struck out one batter for his eighth save.

Taylor Rogers struck out one batter in a clean ninth inning for the Padres to secure the win against the Diamondbacks. The 31-year-old left-hander is up to 25 saves with a 3.93 ERA over 36 2/3 innings.

Matchup of the Day

Eric Lauer (MIL) vs. Alex Cobb (SF)

There aren't a ton of compelling matchups on the pitching side on Saturday's slate. But there should be plenty of intrigue in San Francisco as the Giants host the Brewers for the third game of a four-game series. Cobb has been underwhelming in a Giants uniform, posting a 4.57 ERA on the year. Though he's been much better at home with a 3.62 ERA and 10.13 K/9 in Oracle Park. Lauer will take the mound for Milwaukee. He brings a 3.83 ERA and 96 strikeouts over 89 1/3 innings. He's been better over his last two starts after a rough stretch. In fact, he's posted an ERA under 3.00 in each month outside of June, when he posted a 6.83 ERA across five starts.

American League Quick Hits: Luis Robert was removed from Friday's game after feeling light-headed... Brandon Lowe could be activated from the injured list Saturday or Sunday... Red Sox activated Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock from the 10-day injured list... Rays activated Luis Patino from the 60-day injured list and optioned Tommy Romero to Triple-A... Mariners placed Carlos Santana on the restricted list... Jake Burger's rehab assignment has been put on hold due to an illness... Josh Staumont was activated from the 15-day injured list... Royals recalled Carlos Hernandez from Triple-A... Tigers activated Jose Cisnero from the 60-day injured list and optioned Elvin Rodriguez to Triple-A... Mike Zunino was transferred to the 60-day injured list... Matt Strahm was placed on the 15-day injured list with a left wrist contusion... Red Sox optioned Phillips Valdez to Triple-A... Rangers optioned Josh Sborz and recalled Taylor Hearn from Triple-A... Twins placed Ryan Jeffers on the 10-day injured list with a right thumb contusion and recalled Caleb Hamilton from Triple-A...

National League Quick Hits: Fernando Tatis Jr. began a hitting progression on Friday... Cardinals placed Juan Yepez on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain and recalled Lars Nootbaar from Triple-A... Marlins placed Jon Berti on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain and activated Jorge Soler... Dodgers signed Hansel Robles to a minor league contract... Tyrone Taylor is heading to Triple-A for a rehab assignment... Phillies activated Connor Brogdon from the COVID-19 injured list and optioned Cristopher Sánchez to Triple-A... Marlins optioned Daniel Castano to Triple-A and activated Cody Poteet from the 10-day injured list... Sean Doolittle will undergo season-ending surgery to repair the UCL tear in his left elbow...