By Ron Kaplan, contributor

Joc Pederson got the LA Dodgers off on the right foot when he knocked the second pitch of their first game of a twinbill with the host Chicago Cubs out of the park for a home run, his ninth of the season and eighth this month. It was his only hit in three at-bats (plus a walk) before coming out for a pinch-hitter in the ninth. The Dodgers (38-34) took the opener, 4-3. He entered the nightcap as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning and was walked intentionally when he came to bat in the ninth. The Cubs won 2-1 in 10.

In a weird coincidence, Ian Kinsler also hit a lead-off home run (on the third pitch). The round-tripper — No. 10 on the year and his seventh in June — was the 48th such opener of his career and the margin of difference as the Angels (39-35) held off the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-4. Like Pederson, the dinger was Kinsler’s only hit in three at-bats plus a walk, but he also was hit by a pitch and scored an additional run.

Alex Bregman drove in the only run for the Houston Astros (49-26) in their 2-1 loss to the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. His RBI in the third tied the game at 1-1 as he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Bregman was 1-for-2 with two walks. The ‘Stros’ 12-game winning streak came to an end.

Kevin Pillar poked double #22, his only hit in four at-bats (run scored), as the Toronto Blue Jays (33-39) were chopped by the Atlanta Braves, 11-4.

Ryan Braun grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning as the Milwaukee Brewers (43-40) beat the host Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2.

Danny Valencia was 0-f0r-3 with a walk and a run scored as the Baltimore Orioles (20-51) fell to the host Washington Nationals, 9-7. According to, “Danny Valencia (119 wRC+), Adam Jones (108), and Mark Trumbo (103) join [Manny] Machado as the only players on the roster with an above-average wRC+ so far this season.” For the uninitiated among you, according to’s glossary, “wRC+ takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for important external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.” Uh-huh. That clears that up, thanks.

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As was feared, Richard Bleier, who was having a fantastic season with a lousy team, is done for the year. He underwent “successful” surgery on Tuesday to repair an injured lat. Don’t mean to be a downer, but wouldn’t you have to wait until he tries throwing again to see if was truly successful?

Gabe Kapler’s Philadelphia Phillies (38-33) lost to the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, 7-6.

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Ron Kaplan (@RonKaplanNJ) hosts Kaplan’s Korner, a blog about Jews and sports. He is the author of three books, including The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games and Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War.

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