Rangers top Red Sox in extra-innings thriller

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If this week is any indication, the Rangers will be very exciting to watch in the postseason.

They played in yet another thriller on Friday night, this time against the Red Sox, winning 10-9 on a walkoff solo blast by Nelson Cruz in the 11th inning.

The Rangers actually trailed in this one 8-2 when they came to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning. You’ve probably seen by now how they won it, but the most exciting play of the game was how they tied it in the eighth.

Josh Hamilton, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and four runs scored, led off the bottom of the eighth with a double. Vladimir Guerrero followed, hitting a slow-rolling ground ball up the middle. Jed Lowrie was able to snag it, throwing across his body to first base. It was almost double-take worthy, but Vlad dove headfirst into first base and beat it out. Yes, that really happened.

That’s not all. Hamilton never broke stride on the play, scoring all the way from second base.

Rangers manager Ron Washington told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he feels pretty fortunate to have Hamilton on his squad.

“That’s what he does: a five-tool guy,” Washington said. “A five-tool
guy — run, throw, field, hit and hit with power — that’s what Josh
does. He can do it all.”

I’ll say. In addition to leading the American League with a .362 batting average and .633 slugging percentage, Hamilton is second in OPS (1.044), third in on-base percentage (.411), fourth in runs scored (79), sixth in homers (25) and eighth in RBI (79). An individual performance like Friday night’s only bolsters his case for the American League MVP.

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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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 clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
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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.