25-year-old Cory Luebke didn’t have the easiest of assignments Friday night against the Rockies. Not only was he making his major league debut, he was being asked to stop the bleeding of a seven-game losing streak. No pressure or anything.
Luebke was predictably a little shaky, giving up a pair of two-run homers over five innings while walking two, hitting a batter and committing a fielding error. Edward Mujica, Mike Adams and Ernesto Frieri followed with seven strikeouts over four innings of hitless ball, but it wasn’t enough. The Padres lost 4-3 and have now dropped eight consecutive games.
Chase Headley told Corey Brock of MLB.com that it’s hard to point to any one thing as the reason for recent skid.
“The frustrating part of this is that we haven’t been playing bad
baseball in this streak,” Headley said. “It’s been one little thing that
can change the game.”
Headley is staying positive, but it’s not really a mystery. As David Pinto of Baseball Musings tells us, the Padres have batted .220 over the course of the streak, including .174 with runners in scoring position. The team’s pitching hasn’t been awful, but their opponents have batted .410 with runners in scoring position.
The Padres were 6 1/2 games up on the Giants on August 25. They’re now three games up with 29 left to play. Fortunately for the Padres, the Giants lost Friday night, so they didn’t lose any more ground. Jon Garland will try to snap the streak when he opposes Jason Hammel later this afternoon.
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.