Looking At Kershaw's No Hitter + NBA Draft and NFL Notes

BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES:
THE DODGERS’ 2014 NO-NO’S TAKE CENTER STAGE…

THE NBA DRAFT IS THURSDAY AND WE’LL CLUE YOU IN ON THE LATEST SCUTTLEBUTT…

THE NFL REPORT:
HERE’S A PAIR OF MUST-WATCH GAMES IN WEEK 1 PLUS SOME POINTSPREAD DITTIES, TOO!

The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t own the patent on throwing no-hitters these days… it only feels that way.

This past Wednesday night there was classy LHP Clayton Kershaw striking out 15 Colorado Rockies en route to his 8-0 no-hitter win at Dodger Stadium and that came less than a month removed from a Josh Beckett no-hitter in Philadelphia on May 25th.

Okay, so Kershaw’s no-no was a bit tidier as he didn’t walk a single batter, and the lone runner he allowed came via a sloppy throwing error in the seventh inning by SS Hanley Ramirez.

In the Beckett no-no, the former 2003 World Series hero struck out six batters and walked three in a 6-0 win and note Beckett threw 128 total pitches in that road affair (80 for strikes) while Kershaw’s no-hitter included 107 total pitches with 79 of ‘em strikes.

So that means Kershaw threw nearly 74 percent of his pitches for strikes and—if you didn’t tune in along the way (we did!) then you missed one of the most dizzying curveball displays that absolutely had Colorado batters locked up at the plate—and especially those two-strike “Bugs Bunny” curveballs as MLB Network’s Eric Byrnes kept calling ‘em.

Take note that in the start following the Beckett no-hitter—a May 30th home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates—the hard-throwing righthander needed 88 pitches to navigate his way through five innings of 2-run, 5-hit, 5-K, 1-BB ball and so we’ll be keeping tabs on how Kershaw fares in his next scheduled start that should come Tuesday night in Kansas City.

Don’t look now but Kershaw is 7-2 with a 2.52 ERA, and so he could be well along the path to a third National League Cy Young Award, a fourth straight NL ERA crown and a second 20-win season.

Last year Kershaw was clearly miffed that he didn’t get the All-Star Game start in New York City as Mets’ RHP Matt Harvey got the nod from San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy, but now St. Louis manager Mike Matheny will be hard-pressed to keep him off the mound to start this year’s Midsummer Classic in Minnesota.

In other Baseball News & Notes…

Hats off to the San Diego Padres for their stirring tribute to the late/great Tony Gwynn prior to Wednesday’s 2-1 win against Seattle.

Gwynn—a lifetime .338 hitter—has to go down as one of the best two all-around hitters the past 40 years as we’d put Kansas City 3B George Brett right there with ‘em (if not ahead of Gwynn), and consider that Gwynn batted .350 or better in seven different seasons and compare that to this current anemic Padres team that currently ranks 13th (out of 15) in the NL in batting average at .214, 13th in the league in runs scored with 212 and 11th in the senior circuit in home runs with 52.

Ugh!

San Diego LF Seth Smith’s .286 batting average right now leads the Padres—you may want to know that Gwynn hit higher than .286 in each/every one of his 20 seasons in the big leagues and the best single-season stat we like about Gwynn is that he sported a career single-season high in hits (220) and home runs (17) in the very same year of 1997… at the age of 37!...

You can argue as to whom is the most disappointing team in the bigs this year but our vote—for now—goes to Pittsburgh Pirates (34-37).

The Buccos snapped their two-plus decade playoff drought last year with a wild card play-in win against Cincinnati followed by a spirited NLDS series loss to St. Louis, but here sits Clint Hurdle’s team nearly 45 percent through this 2014 season, and the Pirates are eight games back of NL Central-leading Milwaukee and some 4½ games back of the league’s second wild card berth.

The Pirates are a rotten 17-24 in divisional play and entered Wednesday’s matinee game against Cincinnati with the 12th-best team ERA (3.92) and with three-fifths of the team’s starting rotation sporting ugly ERAs of 4.60 or higher.

Plus, the Pirates’ bullpen—a strong suit the past couple of seasons—already has blown 13-of-34 save opportunities this season and nobody’s been free from blame including last year’s All-Star RHP Jason Grilli, who has surrendered 15 hits and 10 walks in only 17.2 innings…

Finally, the American League West-leading Oakland A’s sport some dazzling numbers this year such as a league-leading 373 runs scored but how about the fact relief pitcher LHP Sean Doolittle—who has nine saves in 10 tries this year—has 48 Ks and just 1 BB in his 34 innings of work?

C’mon, that’s being better than Hall of Famer-to-be Mariano Rivera, right?

And now hear this…

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners.

Plus, the Football Season isn’t that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August—can’t wait!

NBA DRAFT NEWS

The just-disclosed foot injury suffered by seven-foot C Joel Embiid (Kansas) won’t shake the Cleveland Cavaliers from their stance on taking ‘em with the NBA Draft’s No. 1 pick (yes, we’ve seen the reports that the Cavs may want to work out Australian G Dante Exum) but let’s check out some other News/Notes:

Is there any chance that Kentucky’s super-frosh Julius Randle will leapfrog the “big three” of Embiid, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and land somewhere in the top three of next week’s NBA Draft?

The short answer is “no”, but it appears Randle could get scooped up by Orlando with the No. 4 overall pick. Randle—who may actually be a touch smaller than his listed height of six-feet-nine—is being eyeballed by the teams picking #5 (Utah Jazz) and #6 (Boston Celtics) and there remains a shot that someone with multiple first-round picks such as the Phoenix Suns who own picks #14, 18 and 27 could package two of those selections in order to move way up and nab Randle…

How about the draft stock these days of instant offense types T.J. Warren (N.C. State) and Kyle Anderson (UCLA), who some folks believe is a latter-day “Magic Johnson” with his ability to score and pass at six-foot-nine inches tall?

Gut feeling is Warren won’t slide down as much as the draft experts seem to think—he’s being labeled a non-lottery pick these days but don’t be surprised if Philadelphia with pick #10 scoops ‘em up, and watch for Anderson to go higher, too with Denver at #11 a distinct possibility.

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NFL REPORT

Go ahead and mark it down:

We’re now less than 90 days away from the first NFL Sunday—yes, we know Green Bay at Seattle gets us kicked off on Thursday, September 4—but just thought we’d look ahead at two “must-watch” games on this NFL Week 1 sked for Sunday, Sept. 7th:

WASHINGTON at HOUSTON—Well aware of the fact that these teams combined for only five SU (straight-up) wins last year as the ‘Skins went 3-13 and the Texans swooned to 2-14 but here you have the dawning of the Bill O’Brien Era in Houston, and already there’s a touch of controversy with the recent naming of Ryan Fitzpatrick as the team’s starting quarterback.

On the flip side, Washington—which went a dour 5-11 ATS (against the spread) last year while the Texans went 4-12 versus the almighty vig—looks to spark its offense under new head coach Jay Gruden, and did you realize last year the NFC East team scored 20 points or less on eight different occasions and went 0-8 against the odds in those eight games?

SAN FRANCISCO at DALLAS—Here’s something you may not have realized:

These long-time rivals have not played one another in Dallas since the 2008 season—a 35-22 win by the 9½-point favored Cowboys—and this Week 1 showdown comes with extra sauce as San Francisco’s won all three of its season-opening games in the Jim Harbaugh Era including back-to-back triumphs over Green Bay the past two seasons while the Cowboys (coming off a third straight 8-8 SU season) are keeping fingers crossed that QB Tony Romo is fully recovered from the back surgery he had last December.

In case you needed to know some Cowboys’ Week 1 history under head coach Jason Garrett, take note that Dallas has won two-of-three openers in his reign (both wins/covers against the New York Giants).

NFL Pointspread Notes—It’s never too early to examine some NFL Spread Stuff and so let’s take a few moments and see which teams ended the 2013 season with a hot streak and which ones staggered down the stretch:

  • The Atlanta Falcons covered five of their final six games a year ago, but remember this NFC South team still finished just 7-9 ATS overall…
  • The Baltimore Ravens failed to cover four of their final five games while not making it to the post-season for the first time since the 2007 season…
  • The Cleveland Browns were reeling at year’s end with a 1-6 ATS mark following the team’s Nov. 10th bye week…
  • The aforementioned Dallas Cowboys failed to cover four of its final five regular-season games a year ago…
  • The Detroit Lions lost their final four spread verdicts to close out the ’13 season en route to a 6-10 ATS mark overall…
  • The Minnesota Vikings covered five of their final six games last year en route to a decent 9-7 ATS campaign…
  • The New Orleans Saints covered their final three games including that 23-15 loss-but-cover at 9-point fav Seattle in the NFC Divisional Playoff Round…
  • The New York Jets ended their 2013 season on a 3-0-1 ATS march that highlighted a more-than-respectable 9-6-1 spread campaign…
  • The Oakland Raiders failed to cover all four of their final regular-season tilts…
  • The 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t make it to the post-season but the AFC North crew did register a heady 7-1 spread log in the back half of the campaign…
  • The San Diego Chargers notched spread wins in five of their last six games including a pair of playoff covers at Cincinnati and at Denver…
  • The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks covered six of their last eight games overall including—of course—that 43-8 romp over 2 ½-point fav Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey…
  • Finally, the Tennessee Titans ended an inglorious year with an 0-4-1 ATS mark in their final handful of games.

 NOTE: Remember the NBA Draft is set for next Thursday, June 26th and we’ll have previews/coverages all through the next several days plus there’s more Baseball News/Notes comin’ soon in these Jim Sez columns. Our Jim Sez NBA Mock Draft comes your way in Wednesday’s column, so don’t miss out!

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