History lesson: the 1950 World Series

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A day off that serves absolutely no one but a few network people makes for a relative dearth of baseball news today. So let’s look backwards at the last time the Phillies met the Yankees for all the marbles: 1950.

I wasn’t around for it and neither were hardly any of you, but MLB.com’s Hal Bodley was, and he went to every game:

The day before my dad and I were to drive to Philadelphia for Game 1, he held up a newspaper in amazement. “Can you believe Eddie Sawyer is going to start Jim Konstanty in the first game? Against the Yankees!” 

Yes, that was the story of the first game. Konstanty, a 33-year-old who had pitched 74 games as a reliever, saving 22 (though the stat had yet to be invented) and winning 16, would be named the National League’s MVP.

But to start Game 1 of the World Series?

Well, it’s not like Sawyer had much of a choice.  Robin Roberts was the ace, but he had pitched three times in the last five days of the regular season, and back then there weren’t a ton of superfluous days off: Game 154 of the regular season was on October 1st. Game 1 of the World Series was on October 4th.  Guys may have been built out of iron and moxy and asbestos and whatever in those days, but even back then you didn’t throw your starter on two days’ rest after he had just started three of the last five.  And Konstanty did good! He only gave up one run in eight innings. The only problem was that Vic Raschi threw a shutout for the Bombers.

Which kind of set a pattern. As Robin Roberts remembers: “We got swept, but they were all close. Could have gone either way. We lost the first game, 1-0, the second one, 2-1, the third one, 3-2, and the last one, 5-2.” Joe DiMaggio was the hero of Game 2, hitting a 10th inning homer.  Yogi Berra hit an RBI single and a solo shot to stake rookie Whitey Ford to what in this series was an insurmountable lead in Game 4. Looking back and seeing those names, the path of history seems inevitable even if really wasn’t. The better team clearly won.

I’m a sucker for close pitchers’ duels, so I’d love to see a bunch of low-scoring, one run games like we, well, like Hal Bodley saw in 1950.  With the uncertainty of the Phillies rotation and the potency of the Yankees bats, however, I don’t see it happening.  Of course, I also don’t see the 2009 Phillies going without a home run like the 1950 Phillies did either.

But I’ll save a prediction for tomorrow.  Given my track record this postseason, whoever I pick is gonna have some really angry fans.

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.