Within a two-hour span Monday, the Rangers revealed that they picked up
manager Ron Washington’s option for 2010, that Josh Hamilton would
undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle and that Brandon
McCarthy was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right shoulder.
Taking them one at a time:
– Washington’s option was an easy call. There were times last year
at which it didn’t seem he’d last into 2009, but with the Rangers off
to such a fine start, there shouldn’t have been any hesitation In
guaranteeing his modest salary for another year. I still don’t think
Nolan Ryan is sold on Washington, but his players seem quite fond of
him. If Washington leads the team to the postseason, then he should get
a real contract extension over the winter.
– Hamilton is slated to miss 4-6 weeks following surgery on Tuesday.
He should come back after the All-Star break and produce, but last
year’s 156-game season will likely go down as a fluke from a player who
has spent much of his pro career sidelined due to injury when not
suspended because of drugs. Marlon Byrd has replaced him in center
field, with David Murphy picking up most of the time in left. Andruw
Jones remains a backup despite his 933 OPS in 92 at-bats. Murphy is at
708 in 112 at-bats.
– McCarthy’s loss could prove to be bigger, depending on whether
this stress fracture is worse than the one that kept him out in 2007.
Incredibly, he was able to return after just a month off when he
suffered a stress fracture in his shoulder blade in Aug. 2007. McCarthy
has a 4.92 ERA this season, but he’s pitched fairly effectively in
eight of his 11 starts. The Rangers were expected to put Derek Holland
back into the bullpen to make room for the returning Matt Harrison, but
he’ll probably have to remain a starter now. It’s a very good thing the
Rangers had yet to pay anyone to take Vicente Padilla off their hands.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.