Aaron Harang thinks his struggles are 'bad luck'

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After dropping to 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA with an ugly start yesterday, Aaron Harang said: “It’s bad luck. This game’s about luck. I’m going through a bad spell right now.”
Of course, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer points out, the “spell” of “bad luck” doesn’t just include this season. Dating back to May of last season Harang is 1-13 with a 5.41 ERA over the span of 20 starts, during which time he’s served up 23 homers in 119.2 innings while allowing opponents to hit better than .300 against him.
And going back even further, to the start of 2008, he’s 12-34 with a 4.74 ERA in 368 innings spread over 60 starts. Now, someone with a 4.74 ERA certainly doesn’t deserve a 12-34 record, so Harang is right that he’s been unlucky in that respect, but in terms of his actual performance it’s tough to call 60 starts and 368 innings worth of below-average pitching a “spell.”
However you want to classify Harang’s terrible start to this season or 12-34 record and 4.74 ERA since 2008, manager Dusty Baker was unsure about what to do with his Opening Day starter. Baker did say that moving Harang to the bullpen like the Cubs did yesterday with Carlos Zambrano isn’t an option and finding a taker for him via trade figures to be nearly impossible unless the Reds are willing to eat a bunch of salary.
Harang will make $12.5 million for this season and his contract also has an option for 2011 that becomes $14 million or a $2.5 million buyout if he’s traded.

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.