Planes, trains, and automobiles … and Chone Figgins

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T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com tells the amusing story of Chone Figgins being a last-minute addition to the All-Star game when Evan Longoria was scratched with an infected finger literally hours before the first pitch:

Chone Figgins was asleep at his Southern California home in Newport
Beach. He was peacefully oblivious to the fact that the American League
was frantically trying to reach him on Tuesday morning and get him to
Busch Stadium as soon as possible. … His plane was scheduled to land
at 5:20 CT, but it arrived about the same time as Air Force One.
President Obama was flying in for the game, and Figgins’ plane had to
wait.

Figgins joked that he thought about asking the president for a ride
to the game. “That would have been nice, but I don’t think that would
have worked,” said Figgins, who received a police escort instead. “We
still had to take an alternate route because of the president. But
having a police escort was cool. That was my All-Star parade.” He
walked into the clubhouse at 6:30 p.m., about 10 minutes before it was
time to go out for the player introductions and opening ceremonies.

Wake-up calls, cross-country flights, police escorts, arriving minutes before going on the field. And of course Figgins didn’t actually play in the game.
“It’s never disappointing,” Figgins said. “Obviously somebody thought I
was deserving of being an All-Star and worked hard to get me here.
That’s all that matters. I would have loved to have gotten in the game,
but for one night I was able to stand on that line and say I was an
All-Star.”

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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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 clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
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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.