Sports radio station 790 The Zone is reporting that Chipper Jones has a torn ACL and that he’ll be out for the year. Obviously this is distressing to me. But not for the obvious reason.
Yes, losing Chipper Jones — who has been back to his old All-Star self since June — is a big blow to the Braves’ 2010 playoff hopes. But the Phillies are going to get Utley, Victorino and Howard back, Billy Wagner looks shaky lately, Jonny Venters has been used so much that his arm is going to fall off soon, and Brooks Conrad hitting pinch-hit grand slams is not exactly a strategic plan on which you’d bet the mortgage. The point is with Chipper or without him, there were no guarantees that the Braves were going to win the division.
No, the distressing thing about this is that there’s a good chance that Jones’ career ended crumpled on the turf of Minute Maid Park and not with a tip of his hat in Atlanta on the final day of the season (or, wish upon wish, the playoffs). And it may be over. Jones has hinted strongly at retirement, and that was even without the prospect of a painful rehab.
The only thing making me feel at all good about this is that, if this is the end of Jones’ career — a career in which he was frequently and often unfairly maligned for his defense — it ended on a spectacular defensive play. That pick, jump and throw he made was a thing of beauty, and I’ll always remember it even if I want to block the landing out of my mind.
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 seven 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.