My favorite catcher is now Tyler Flowers of the Chicago White Sox, simply because he has the guts to say he’s ready to be the starter, never mind that A.J. Pierzynski fellow.
“When I look at the whole offseason, I’m preparing myself to be the starting catcher for the White Sox,” said Flowers, during a phone interview from his home in Atlanta. “When the White Sox tell me I’m not starting, then I’ll prepare to be the backup. And if I’m not the backup, then I’ll prepare myself to be back in Charlotte.”
OK so he’s kind of kidding around. But I think that’s an even better reason to like him. Baseball could use a little more happy-go-lucky banter, and a little less of the “I’m-just-happy-to-help-the-ballclub” platitudes. In fact, I would be signing up to be president of his fan club if he had said this: “And if I’m not in Charlotte, I’ll prepare myself to sell Lady Kenmores at Sears.”
He didn’t, but I’ll cut him some slack. After all, he was two years old when “Bull Durham” came out.
Flowers, who came to Chicago from Atlanta in the Javier Vazquez trade in Dec. 2008, did go on to stump for some time at DH in the upcoming season, joking that if Pierzynski got hurt, one-time catching prospect Paul Konerko could move behind the dish. Sounds like Flowers could be a nice foil for Ozzie Guillen, only perhaps without all the profanity.
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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 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.