UPDATE: According to Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe, Ellsbury’s absence from the lineup today has nothing to do with last night’s catch.
“The only fallout (from last night’s catch) is he might’ve had a little grass in his teeth,” Terry Francona told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
Conspiracy theories are fun, we have to give them the benefit of the doubt here. It’s worth mentioning that Ellsbury is 0-for-12 since returning from the DL, so sitting him against lefty CC Sabathia might not be the worst idea in the world.
1:20 PM: Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that Jacoby Ellsbury was “feeling it” with his cracked ribs before Friday’s game against the Yankees. And now, one day after making a diving catch in the eighth inning, Ellsbury is out of the starting lineup.
Here’s what Ellsbury told the Boston Globe after last night’s game:
“[The dive] didn’t help it,”
Ellsbury said of his ribs. “But I’m just happy I made the catch. Those
are tough balls for outfielders. I’ve always played on instincts. To
play the outfield, play baseball, you really have to rely on your
instincts. If you’re thinking out there, the ball’s already by you. With
how hard he hit it, line drive, [if it] gets by me it’s going to the
fence. It’s at least a triple for Berkman.
“Somehow [I] managed to keep my face good. It looked like I ate some grass, but I actually didn’t get any.”
It’s not like Ellsbury was completely pain-free when he came back, but he did feel confident enough that he would be able to play through the discomfort. We haven’t heard any comments from Terry Francona yet, but today’s absence will only embolden those who believe that Ellsbury is “soft.”
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.