Texas Rangers v San Francisco Giants, Game 1

For the love of God, Ron Washington: get Vlad out of right field

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I was uneasy with Vlad Guerrero playing right field before Game 1. Afterwards? Ye Gods, don’t let this happen again, Ron Washington. Vlad was hell on wheels in the outfield last night. And not round wheels. Square, stone wheels like something you’d see on the Flintstones.

Among the highlights:

  • First inning, Buster Posey at the plate. Posey hit a shallow fly ball.  Guerrero came nowhere near it. Thank goodness for Ian Kinsler who busted out from second base to get that, as if he were given a memo before the game that he was supposed to play both second and right.  He turned a double play on that one, but it could have been disastrous. And yes, maybe that was a matter of coaching — Guerrero was playing deep — but he was probably playing so deep because the Rangers knew he couldn’t go back on anything and wanted to avoid balls over his head;
  • In the eighth, He charged Edgar Renteria’s single, but gave it the Roger Dorn ole treatment, allowing it to roll to the wall and putting Renteria on third;
  • Three batters later was maybe the worst image of the night: Freddy Sanchez hit one that dropped into the bullpen. Vlad was shaky enough getting over to it, but then couldn’t find the handle, allowing Sanchez to go to second. It was originally scored a double, but the beat writers who were at the game and on Twitter said that everyone in the press box was absolutely howling at the official scorer on that one. They were right to howl, and he quickly changed it to a single and an error.

Beyond those plays he just looked slow and kind of sad. Misplayed hops. Bobbled balls. Jogging into the corner. I started making my usual Fred Sanford jokes during the live chat and people started defending Fred Sanford from such a vile association.

But I don’t mean for this to be a pile-on on Guerrero. I think he was trying his hardest. It’s just that his hardest is nowhere near good enough. Not for the World Series. Not in that outfield.  He may have done worse than expected, but the expectations shouldn’t have been high.

Ultimately, Ron Washington didn’t put Guerrero in a position to succeed. It didn’t cost the Rangers the game — there were a lot of other things that went wrong — but it cost a lot to fans in psychic terms, what with having a player who struck us with awe for so many years fumble around feebly.  I always thought the old timers who talk about Willie Mays in the 1973 World Series were overstating how bad it was, but now I know how painful this sort of thing can be.

The worst part: Ron Washington said after the game that Vlad is going back out there tonight.  For the love of God, I hope someone talks him out of it today.

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)
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.