Lee's dominance puts Yankees in early hole

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The winner of Game 1 has prevailed in each of the last six World Series
It’s a streak that started when the Marlins upset the Yankees in six games in 2003. But the truth is that none of the series since have been close. In fact, three were sweeps and the other two ended in five games.
We still figure to see a better battle this time around, but anyone who expected the Yankees to steamroll their opponent from the weaker league got a nasty surprise when Cliff Lee completely shut the team down. It was nearly the first time the Yankees had been shut out in 41 World Series Game 1s.
On the other hand, at least they avoided being shut out back-to-back series games, having been blanked by Josh Beckett to close out the 2003 series.
Besides Lee, Chase Utley was the story. The game’s best second baseman homered twice to join Babe Ruth as the only left-handed hitters to homer twice off a left-handed pitcher in the same World Series game. He also reached base in a 26th straight postseason game, breaking Boog Powell’s record.
It was an extremely well played game until the eighth. CC Sabathia was wild in the first, but he pitched out of trouble and he went on to have a fine outing, spoiled only by Utley. Utley’s solo homers, two of the four hits allowed by CC, both came on two-strike fastballs that caught way too much of the plate.
What has to concern Yankees fans is that neither Phil Hughes nor David Robertson could help keep a 2-0 game close in the eighth. Hughes walked both batters he faced, though a couple of arguable calls went against him in the second at-bat. Robertson retired just one of three hitters. As mediocre as Joba Chamberlain has looked, the Yankees need Hughes and Robertson to serve as the bridge to Mariano Rivera. There are serious questions whether either can get the job done.
The offense was simply overmatched by an ace pitching at the absolute top level of his ability. Lee might have had the first World Series shutout since Beckett in 2003 if not for another postseason miscue from the Utley-Jimmy Rollins double play combination in the ninth. He struck out 10 and walked none. The run was unearned, so he now has a 0.54 ERA in four postseason starts.
Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts against him.
Game 2 now seems to be pretty close to a must-win for the Yankees, who just might have to face Lee twice more. Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett are set to take the mound.

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.