Diamond Digest: Major League Baseball’s top story lines this week

Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers are hanging tough in the National League West race.
Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers are hanging tough in the National League West race. The Associated Press

Here are five interesting stories in Major League Baseball this week:

No quit in Dodgers

Ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw just went on the disabled list. Left-handers Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alex Wood and Brett Anderson are on the DL. Outfielders Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier are on the DL. Second baseman Kike Hernandez is on the DL. The list goes on and on. But the Los Angeles Dodgers keep coming. They won six out of seven last week and whittled three games off the Giants’ lead in the National League West. They sit just five games out after sweeping a three-game series with Colorado at home. They lose Kershaw and deal for Bud Norris. He throws six shutout innings in a 5-0 win over the Rockies on Saturday. Brandon McCarthy makes his first start in 14 months after having Tommy John surgery – he throws five innings of two-hit ball in Sunday’s 4-1 win over Colorado. Shortstop Corey Seager leads the team in average (.303) homers (17), and hits (98), and is tied with Justin Turner (11 homers, .262 average) for the team lead in RBIs with 40. This week is lining up nicely for them, too, as they host Baltimore (four-game skid) for three before hosting San Diego (35-47) for four.

Trouble on the North Side

The Chicago Cubs are suddenly reeling. They are coming off a four-game sweep in New York at the hands of the Mets. New York outscored Chicago 32-11. Jon Lester took the loss Sunday, allowing eight runs on nine hits in 1  1/3 innings in the Mets’ 14-3 win. Wilmer Flores of the Mets was 6 for 6 with two homers, including one of three the Mets hit off Lester. Cubs starter Jason Hammel gave up 10 runs on nine hits in four innings in Friday’s 10-2 Mets win. Help is on the way this week: The Cubs host the lowly Reds for three starting Monday, and the even lowlier Braves for one on Thursday.

Timmy Time

Right-hander Tim Lincecum looks for a bounce-back start Tuesday when the Angels play the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. The former Giant was strong in his first start in nearly a year on June 18 against Oakland, allowing one run in six innings. Since then, he’s been roughed up in two starts – allowing four runs in three innings against the A’s and five runs in 4  1/3 against the Astros. He’s certainly facing the right team. Tampa Bay has lost 16 of 18.

Strasburg dealing

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg beat the Reds Sunday to move to 11-0. He’s the first N.L. starter to begin the season 11-0 since Andy Hawkins did it for the Padres in 1985. He missed two starts with an upper back strain before facing the Reds, but showed no signs of rust. He threw 6  2/3 no-hit innings before being pulled after throwing 109 pitches. “It’s tough taking a guy out of a no-hitter, but we have to think about the future and where he had come from off the DL,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker told the Associated Press. “You just think: ‘We’re going to need him.’ ” Next up for Strasburg: a Friday-night showdown with Mets ace Noah Syndergaard in New York.

Who are these guys?

The Giants keep running out lineups featuring guys that should be playing at Raley Field, yet those players keep giving them a chance to win. On Sunday, manager Bruce Bochy was forced to start Brandon Belt in left, Jarrett Parker in center and Mac Williamson in right. His top four outfielders were out – Hunter Pence is on the disabled list after hamstring surgery, Denard Span was out with neck stiffness, Angel Pagan had general soreness and Gregor Blanco injured a knee on Saturday. Five of Sunday’s starters were not in the majors on Opening Day. Belt, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford were the only ones in Sunday’s lineup and the Opening Day lineup.

Compiled by Chris La Marr