Eri Yoshida, for those of you who don’t know, is the Female knuckleballer who played for the Kobe 9 Cruise of the Japanese independent leagues last year. She went 0-2 in 11 games. Having obviously conquered Japan, she’s now aiming her flutterball at the United States, saying on her blog that she’s going to pitch in the Arizona Winter League this January.
Though not much in the way of real baseball talent takes part in the Arizona Winter League — if you’re worth a damn you’re in someone’s spring training camp then — I’d still expect her to get shelled. Not because she’s a woman, but because she’s a seventeen year-old knuckleballer. If all it took to compete with a knuckleball was the willingness to throw one, lots of high schoolers without any velocity would be throwing them. Heck, I would have been all over that back in the day.
They’re not, however, because a knuckleball takes a lot in the way of touch, practice and experience to get right. And even if you get a respectable one, you have to be able to keep them honest with an occasional fastball or something. Even Wakefield does that, with a fastball that would be pretty darn good for a lot of seventeen year-olds. Call me crazy, but I can’t see Yoshida possessing respectable enough gas to throw a get-me-over pitch when the knuckler isn’t dancing.
But I do love knuckleballers and I do love crazy publicity stunts, so I’ll be rooting for Erin Yoshida.
(Thanks to Ron of Baseball Over Here for the link)
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.