Veteran umpire Joe West made headlines earlier this month for saying the slow pace of Yankees-Red Sox games were “pathetic” and “embarrassing” and “a disgrace to baseball.”
He’s apparently making it his personal mission to speed games up, but Joe Maddon wasn’t happy about West immediately walking to the mound as soon as the Rays manager stepped onto the field to change pitchers.
I didn’t like that. It’s not the way it should be. It has nothing to do with the pace of the game. That’s inappropriate. A manager should be allowed to go out to the mound, talk to his pitcher and then you make the exchange without the umpire being privy to the conversation.
I didn’t like the idea of being shadowed so quickly when I got out there, and the bad part is I’m going through this exchange with David [Price] coming out of the game, and it’s not good, because David shouldn’t be subject to all that, he really shouldn’t. That should be between David and I, I get it done, and then the umpire comes out and I say I want the next pitcher.
I think most fans would agree with West that the pace of games are too slow, but there are far better ways for him to approach that than what he did to Maddon and ultimately one rogue umpire trying to change things in the one game he’s at each night isn’t going to do much of anything aside from adding to the inconsistencies that help contribute to the slow pace in the first place.
Pitchers like Mark Buehrle are consistently involved in the quickest games and it’s not because the umpire is beating the manager to the mound for pitching changes, it’s because the guy on the mound is delivering the ball within seconds of getting it back from the catcher. Encouraging that and in turn encouraging hitters to remain in the batter’s box is the way to go if West and MLB are truly interested in having an impact.
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.