This is neither (a) technically a firing; or (b) a surprise, but it’s now official — via team press release — that the Brewers and Ken Macha are parting ways.
It’s not a firing because Macha’s contract was only a two-year thing and it’s now up. The mechanism of his departure is the team declining to pick up his option for 2011. It’s not a surprise because people have been reporting that this was going down since last night, and have been reasonably assuming this was going down for a solid couple of months.
What ultimately did him in was the pitching, obviously. No, Macha was not blessed with a deep and talented staff. At the same time, he didn’t do a great job in trying to get the best out of what he had either. Oh, and the fact that, as he walked out the door on the 2010 season he bashed the two best players on his team didn’t help matters. Sure, maybe Braun and Fielder didn’t respond to Macha and maybe it wasn’t his fault. But I don’t get why you basically throw it on them as you’re leaving. It all suggests some bad blood that has gone largely unreported.
There has been very little buzz about possible replacements for Macha in recent weeks. I would expect the usual suspects — Bob Melvin, Ted Simmons, maybe even Willie Randolph, despite his denials of interest in the job — to be mentioned. I still kind of like my Ryne Sandberg idea, but I suppose Cubs-spite is not the strongest basis on which to make such decisions.
Here’s one: Jose Oquendo. He’s gotta be tired of waiting for Tony La Russa to retire, he knows the NL Central and the dude played every damn position on the diamond back in the day. Make it happen Doug Melvin.
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.