Here are five interesting stories in baseball this week:
It ends well for Endwell
Hats off to the kids from Endwell, N.Y., for their 2-1 win over South Korea in the championship game of the Little League World Series Sunday in South Williamsport, Pa. Endwell ended a five-year championship drought for U.S. teams on Little League’s biggest stage and gave New York its first title since 1964. Huntington Beach won in 2011 and Mid Island from Staten Island won New York’s last World Series championship. Ryan Harlost was the hero for Endwell, allowing one run on five hits while striking out eight in six innings. “I was a little nervous at first in front of a lot of people but it’s just another game and I felt confident going in,” Harlost said. He should have been nervous. He’s a kid playing in front of 22,000 people and an international TV audience. Nice work, kid.
Hat trick for Donaldson, eh
Reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson had quite a day Sunday, recording his first three-homer game in host Toronto’s 9-6 win over the Twins. Donaldson hit a solo homer in the second, then delivered a go-ahead, two-run blast in the seventh. After he hit a solo homer in the eighth, fans tossed hats onto the field to celebrate his “hat trick.” Toronto fans demanded a curtain call. “I’ve never had a curtain call before so that was nice,” Donaldson said. Yeah, the A’s didn’t need that guy anymore (they traded him to Toronto in 2014).
Dodgers looking strong
The Los Angeles Dodgers, despite a laundry list of injuries, especially to their pitching staff, find themselves with a two-game lead over the stumbling Giants in the National League West. L.A. stood toe-to-toe with the mighty Chicago Cubs at Chavez Ravine this weekend, winning two of three. They could have swept the series, but Kenley Jansen allowed a run in the ninth to tie the game on Friday, and Kris Bryant’s two-run homer in the 10th led Chicago to the 6-4 victory. The Dodgers then gutted out a 3-2 win Saturday and a 1-0 win Sunday. Los Angeles’ staff allowed 11 earned runs on 21 hits in the series. They open a three-game series in Colorado on Monday.
Wild about the wild card
With the Giants two back in the N.L. West, some fans might have taken a peek at the wild-card standings recently and noted they hold the top spot, 2 1/2 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals, who hold a half-game lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second wild-card spot. Miami is 1 1/2 games back of St. Louis, and the New York Mets are 2 1/2 back. In the A.L., five teams are within 3 1/2 games of the second wild-card spot. Boston holds down the top spot with a one-game lead on Baltimore. Both clubs play in the A.L. East, where Toronto holds a two-game lead on the Red Sox. The beautiful thing about the wild card is that it offers hope. Even the New York Yankees, who just gutted their roster at the trade deadline, are within 3 1/2 games of the second wild-card spot. It promises to be a wild ride from here on out.
Puig’s L.A. days over?
A report Sunday had the Dodgers placing Yasiel Puig on revocable waivers, meaning they could be looking to deal the slugger. Puig was so unimpressive this season that he was demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Aug. 2. He has been tearing it up in Triple-A, however, batting .382 with five homers and 14 RBIs. If he is dealt or released, what a sad ending to his L.A. story. Puig had a big impact in his rookie year of 2013, hitting 19 homers and driving in 42 runs in just 104 games. He hit 16 homers in 148 games in 2014, but his average was .296. In 2015, he slumped to .255 with 11 homers in 79 games, and was batting .260 with seven dingers in just 81 games when he was demoted this season. Perhaps a fresh start would do him some good, but it would be tough for L.A. to say goodbye to a player with so many impressive skills.
Chris La Marr and The Associated Press