Daily Dose: Bedard hits the DL again

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Erik Bedard came off the disabled list on July 7, went 0-1 with a 4.15
ERA in 17 innings spread over four starts while working on a limited
pitch count, and landed back on the shelf Sunday. Shoulder problems are
once again to blame, and the Mariners are calling the latest issue
inflammation while hoping to get him back in a couple weeks.

While the latest trip to the DL ruins whatever chance the Mariners
had of dealing Bedard prior to Friday’s deadline, the injury should
make it easier for him to pass through waivers unclaimed after July 31.
In other words, if he comes back in two weeks and looks healthy,
Seattle may still have an opportunity to cash Bedard in before he hits
free agency. He’s continued to pitch well throughout the injuries.

While the Mariners keep chugging along just 10 wins from last year’s total, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* Brett Gardner has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees, as the
25-year-old rookie hit .275/.354/.400 with 20 steals in 25 attempts and
great defense through 85 games while splitting time with Melky Cabrera
in center field. Unfortunately he suffered a broken left thumb while
sliding into second base Saturday and will be in a cast for the next
couple weeks before being evaluated further.

Triple-A center fielder Austin Jackson is one of baseball’s best
outfield prospects and is hitting .311/.375/.429 with 17 steals in 92
games, but manager Joe Girardi indicated Sunday that the 22-year-old is
unlikely to be called up as Cabrera gets another chance to play every
day. In terms of offense his .285/.347/.433 mark is nearly identical to
Gardner, but Cabrera’s glove and wheels are downgrades.

* After going 0-for-4 in his big-league debut Saturday, Michael
Saunders notched a pair of hits Sunday while driving in his first
career run. Seattle cleared room for Saunders by designating Wladimir
Belantien for assignment in preparation for a trade, leaving Ryan
Langerhans as his only real competition for playing time and all but
guaranteeing the 22-year-old top prospect regular starts down the
stretch.

Saunders batted .290/.374/.484 at Double-A last season before
struggling after a promotion to Triple-A, but mastered Tacoma while
hitting .310/.378/.544 with 13 homers, 30 total extra-base hits, and a
25/48 K/BB ratio in 64 games prior to the call-up. Saunders projects as
a 20-homer hitter with a .275-.290 batting average, double-digit
steals, and solid defense, but he’s not a mixed-league option yet.

* John Smoltz was regularly clocked at 91-93 miles per hour with his
fastball and showed a good slider while getting six strikeouts in five
innings Sunday, but once again struggled by allowing six runs on nine
hits. Lack of fastball command has really hurt Smoltz and he certainly
hasn’t looked great through six starts, but with a 28/5 K/BB ratio in
30.2 innings his 1-3 record and 7.03 ERA are misleading.

* While making absolutely zero promises regarding the ratio of fantasy insight to inane rambling, I’m now on Twitter
and have quickly become addicted to posting stuff throughout the day.
Whether you’re interested in reading the minutiae of my life, my
complaints about the Twins, or half of random conversations I’m having
with people you likely don’t know, come check out @aarongleeman on Twitter!

AL Quick Hits: Justin Morneau went deep twice Sunday, and now
leads the AL in homers and RBIs … With their efforts to acquire Roy
Halladay stalled the Phillies have been scouting Cliff Lee, who threw
seven innings of two-run ball Sunday for his seventh win … With the Red
Sox facing a right-hander Sunday, Mike Lowell was benched in favor of
Adam LaRoche … Bartolo Colon will stay in the rotation and start
Wednesday, with Jose Contreras pushed to Thursday … Cleveland got
reliever Jess Todd from St. Louis to complete the Mark DeRosa trade …
Already battling the flu, Kevin Millwood left Sunday’s start with a
strained gluteus … Brett Cecil stayed on a roll Sunday with seven
frames of one-run ball … Tony Pena Jr. will go to the low minors to
work on becoming a pitcher after posting a .548 OPS as a “hitter” …
Cleveland turned down Boston’s offer of Michael Bowden, Justin
Masterson, and an unnamed outfield prospect for Victor Martinez.

NL Quick Hits: Geovany Soto (oblique) is slated to take batting
practice Monday and could return as soon as next week … Max Scherzer
shut out the Pirates for seven innings Sunday, striking out eight
without a walk … Because of setbacks, Chris Young (shoulder) isn’t
expected to return until September, if at all … Micah Owings exited
Sunday’s start after three innings with shoulder soreness … Dmitri
Young’s comeback officially ended with a torn quadriceps … Joe Blanton
tossed eight innings of two-run ball Sunday and is 7-2 with a 3.21 ERA
and 82/27 K/BB in 15 starts since an ugly April … Still bothered by a
sore hand, Manny Ramirez sat out Sunday’s game … Chad Gaudin stayed on
a roll Sunday by allowing one run over seven innings in a no-decision …
John Lannan cut his ERA to 3.25 after giving up one run in eight
innings Sunday … Colby Ramus was out of the lineup Sunday and will have
his sore heel examined Monday … Derrek Lee missed his second straight
game Sunday with back spasms, giving Jake Fox the start.

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)
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.