Vlad joins the 400-homer club

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This season has mostly been a forgettable one for Vladimir Guerrero, who’s posting career-worst numbers at the plate and has missed 57 of 110 games with various injuries. However, he’s been on fire since returning from the disabled list last week, raising his OPS by 60 points in just seven games, and hit a pair of long balls last night to join the 400-homer club.
Guerrero is two-thirds of the way into his age-34 season and his 400 homers rank 24th all time through the age of 34, putting him in striking distance of Ernie Banks (404), Carlos Delgado (407), and Reggie Jackson (410). Alex Rodriguez is the leader in homers through age 34 with 574, which is amazing given that he’s only 33 years old. He has another 200 or so games to increase his lead over Sammy Sosa (539), Jimmie Foxx (527), Babe Ruth (516), Hank Aaron (510), and Willie Mays (505).
Much has been made of the 500-homer milestone losing its luster as power numbers exploded in recent years, but Guerrero is a good example of why going deep 500 times is still really, really hard. He’s been in the majors since the age of 22, has played in over 90 percent of his team’s games, produced at least 25 homers each season from 1998 to 2008, ranked among the league’s top 10 in homers seven times … and still has “only” 400 with six weeks remaining in his age-34 season.
Guerrero may seem like a pretty safe bet to smack another 100 homers, but then again he has just eight this season, appears to be deteriorating physically, turns 35 years old in February, and hasn’t homered 30 times since 2006. Can he bounce back with 25 homers next season and then go deep another 25 times in 2011 and 2012? If so, he’ll still need 20-25 homers as a 38-year-old in 2013. Five-hundred remains a very big number.

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.