Or, if they’re tied or losing, who comes out of the pen late? Lidge? Madson? Even when his usage suggested that he was going with the hot hand (or, in this case, the less cold hand) Charlie Manuel has at least verbally insisted for most of the postseason that Brad Lidge is still the guy. Now? He’s not pretending it isn’t a gut call anymore:
“I don’t want to sound like smart or nothing, but I’m probably going to use him the way I want to, when we get there and how I feel,” Manuel said of Lidge. Then, referring to the pitching coach Rich Dubee, he said, “I’ll do a lot of talking in the dugout with Dubee, and we’ll decide on which one we want to put out there.”
Until now Manuel has always had some basis, however thin, to say that Lidge was really the guy and that Madson was in because of matchups or recent workload or whatever. But unlike Monday night, the Phillies now face an elimination game with both Lidge and Madson rested. I’ll be fascinated to see who Manuel calls for if the Phillies are up entering the eighth or ninth inning.
If the Yankees are up? Well, it’s worth noting that Mariano Rivera only needed 13 pitches to close games three and four, and didn’t pitch at all on Monday. If the Phillies can’t jump on Andy Pettitte tonight, they are almost certainly going to see Rivera for two innings. Maybe (gulp) three.
So my advice to the Phillies: score early and score often, because if you’re down late, it’s over, over over.
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 seven 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.