The dominoes are beginning to fall.
Cliff Lee went off the board late Monday night, making Carl Pavano the “best” starting pitcher left standing in the free agent market, for better or worse. The Brewers had interest in signing Pavano, but were reportedly reluctant to go beyond two years. Now that they have traded for Zack Greinke, we can cross them off the list.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com tweeted a short while ago that the Twins have regained a little bit of leverage as far as retaining the free agent right-hander, and that’s probably true, but other teams who wanted Greinke, such as the Nationals or Rangers, may have more of a sense of urgency with Pavano than they did yesterday. Not necessarily a bad thing for him.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe speculated this morning that signing Pavano would take $36 million over three years. The other comparable signings out there this winter include Ted Lilly, who received $33 million over three years from the Dodgers and Jorge De La Rosa, who is essentially guaranteed $32 million over three years with the Rockies. It’s not unreasonable to think that Pavano could pocket a few extra million for holding out, especially in an environment where teams have not been hesitant about spending.
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.