Earlier Tuesday there was a report that the Tampa Bay Rays might be in on the chase for Cliff Lee. Later on, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg (pictured) was talking big about his budget and how even though it is “beyond stretched,” he was willing to open the purse strings. From Marc Topkin:
Asked if the Rays could make a “significant” addition, Sternberg replied: “By any means necessary. We’ll do whatever — money won’t be an object. Players are always an object for us. And the money will be an impediment, but we’ll figure it out if it makes all the sense in the world for this team.”
“Any means necessary!” How exciting for Rays fans. Well wait a minute. Hold on. What was that thing he said about an “impediment?”
Clarifying further on the money quote, Sternberg said, “it’s an impediment, it’s certainly a large impediment. And (Andrew) reminds me of what it means for the future because basically what it is is you’re borrowing from the future on your chances this year and possibly recouping some of it. But that’s not a business plan to say we’re going to play five- and seven-game series right through the end of the World Series, it’s not something you can count on.”
So what does it all mean? Are the Rays willing to spend money or not? Will they deal prospects for a player like Lee? Perhaps. After all, a half-season of Lee would only cost the Rays about $4 million, and then they can let him walk as a Type A free agent after the season and net a pair of draft picks. That could make some sense.
But the Rays aren’t going to go wild chasing pricey players with long-term contracts. In fact, they might not do anything at all. Remember, they were saying these sorts of things last year as well.
The words “by any means necessary” just carry a lot more credibility coming out of the mouth of something like, say, Brian Cashman.
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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.