Hard to figure those Cardinals out. They continued their dominance over the first-place Reds with a 3-2 win last night, putting an end to their five-game losing streak. They are now 11-5 against Cincinnati this season, however they have just five wins against teams not named the Reds since August 6. Alas, they are currently seven games back in the NL Central and 5 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the Wild Card.
The odds of the Cardinals making the postseason are still a meager 12.4 percent, according to Baseball Prospectus, but Jamie Garcia is cementing his place for the National League Rookie of the Year award. He allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings last night, improving to 13-6 on the year. The 24-year-old left-hander currently ranks eighth in the league in wins and sixth with a 2.35 ERA through 26 starts.
Just with my cursory research, I’ve found that Garcia is currently on pace for the lowest ERA by a rookie starting pitcher (at least among those who qualify for the ERA title) since Mark Fidrych led the American League with a 2.34 ERA in 1976. That’s something pretty special.
The National League has a host of outstanding rookies this season, including Buster Posey, Jason Heyward, Starlin Castro, Gaby Sanchez, Jonny Venters and Jon Niese, just to name a few. If they were in the American League, each of them would have a legitimate case to win the hardware. But unless Garcia really stumbles over his last few starts here, he should have this thing locked up.
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.