Jose Bautista denies performance-enhancing claims

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Jose Bautista, as we mentioned earlier, launched his 39th and 40th home runs of the season on Monday night in the Blue Jays’ 3-2 defeat of the Yankees. 

Because his previous career-high home run total was 16 and because we as baseball fans have been burned in the past by many a slugger, the 29-year-old Bautista is having to answer questions about his training methods.  This from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

“Nobody’s said anything to me, and I don’t see why they should. Baseball
has a strict policy against those performance-enhancing whatever you
want to call them. 

It’s not a secret and I didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Bautista continued. “I
keep saying it because it’s the truth. It’s as simple as getting [my
swing] started earlier, and I’ve got Cito and [hitting coach] Dwayne
Murphy to thank for that.”

Is it wrong that he’s forced to deal with such inquires because of the mistakes of the home run hitters that came before him?  Sure.  But we’re not that far removed from the steroid era, and we might not even be removed at all.  Heck, Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino was busted for performance-enhancers just last week.

Let’s keep in mid, however, that baseball statistics have a tendency to spike and that every player goes through peaks and valleys.  Bautista is batting .258 with a .970 OPS, 40 home runs and 95 RBI through 438 at-bats.  He’s having a career year, and that is probably all that’s going on.

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.