I realize that some of you were watching the Tony Awards, the NBA Finals and other things that don’t really matter all that much, but the smart ones among you were watching the Cubs-White Sox game. If you did, you watched a pretty damn spiffy pitching matchup, with Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd matching no-hit bids until late in the game.
Lilly still had his going in the eighth when White Sox’ second baseman Gordon Beckham tried to lay down a bunt to break it up. This did not sit well with the fans in Wrigley, who booed the attempt, most likely because they perceived it as a violation of baseball’s unwritten rules. Or maybe they were just booing the fact that Old Style sales were cut off. You never can tell with a Wrigley crowd. Either way, Ozzie Guillen weighed in on it all:
“You bunt in the ninth, that’s unprofessional. But the
eighth, Wrigley Field people; the only thing they can do is boo. They
boo for every freakin thing here.”
The Cubs fans were ridiculous to boo, but I’d argue even with Ozzie on this point: in a 1-0 game you can bunt whenever the hell you want if you think it’s your best chance to get on base. I mean, sure, we can talk what’s bush league and what isn’t if the score is 6-0, but in a close game on a rainy night, when the pitcher is starting to think more about his impending accomplishment? Damn skippy I’m asking a speedy player to lay down a bunt if he thinks he can reach on it.
Of course, I’d also be curious to hear what Guillen would say if the situation was reversed and Starlin Castro was laying one down on Floyd. Something tells me he’d take issue with it, and that he wouldn’t confine his adjectives to the word “freakin’.”
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.