Red Sox get shortstop Alex Gonzalez from Reds

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General manager Theo Epstein and the Red Sox stayed busy this afternoon, sending Single-A infielder Kristopher Negron to the Reds to reacquire Alex Gonzalez three seasons after he was Boston’s starting shortstop. Gonzalez hit just .255/.299/.397 in 111 games with the Red Sox in 2006 and has been even worse this year, batting .210/.258/.296 in 68 games after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
Gonzalez has long been one of baseball’s worst hitters, as his .686 career OPS ranks seventh-lowest among all active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. For quite a while his strong glove was enough to make him a decent enough all-around player despite the horrible bat, but now that aging and injuries have turned Gonzalez into a mediocre defender his usefulness is pretty iffy.
Boston has been starting Nick Green at shortstop since dumping Julio Lugo on the Cardinals only to watch Jed Lowrie land back on the disabled list with more wrist problems, so obviously the threshold for upgrading the position isn’t high. Gonzalez is probably better than Chris Woodward, who the Red Sox have used as a utility man since claiming him off waivers last week, but he’s unlikely to really be any better than Green.
Of course, the hope is that Lowrie will be able to come off the shelf soon and can stay healthy down the stretch, in which case Gonzalez will be nothing more than a utility man and the Red Sox will have simply dropped about a million bucks and a low-level prospect for the marginal difference between two sub par shortstops. Gonzalez also has a $6 million team option for 2010, but don’t expect Boston to pick it up.

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)
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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.