There are rumors swirling in San Diego that GM Kevin Towers could be fired at the end of the season. Officially, new owner/CEO Jeff Moorad is being non-committal:
“We’re continuing our evaluation and assessment of multiple parts of the organization, baseball included,” Moorad said in an email. “At this point, Kevin is our general manager, and is under contract through the 2010 season.”
There’s no law that says an owner has to publicly proclaim his love for his under-contract general manager, but you’d think Moorad would be more effusive, because Towers has done a pretty good job under tough circumstances in San Diego.
Even though everything was cut to the bone due to owner John Moores’ expensive divorce, the team is better in 2009 than it was in 2008. Indeed, the Padres are 38-33 in the second half, which is a game better than the Dodgers have been. Towers was forced to trade Jake Peavy, and despite having to deal with both a harsh no-trade clause and the fact that everyone in baseball knew he was desperate to unload him, he managed to make a great deal, getting some great young arms and unloading $53 million in salary obligations.
One never knows for sure what goes on inside a major league front office, but unless Moorad simply doesn’t like and feels he can’t work with Towers, I can’t see that firing a guy like him is anything close to a good idea. Especially when mopes like Brian Sabean are allowed to hang around.
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.