Albert Pujols

Are the Cardinals in deep trouble if they don’t lock Pujols up before spring training?

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Anthony Castrovince on the Albert Pujols situation:

But if Pujols’ long-term status remains uncertain going into and through the season, then the drama surrounding the situation could easily eclipse the circus involving Jeter and the Yanks earlier this winter. Because with Pujols, we’re talking about the game’s premier player. In his prime. And while the Yankees and Red Sox, by virtue of already possessing Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez, respectively, probably wouldn’t be bidders, every other team in the game with money to spend would be circling over Pujols, ready to pounce.

I think the Cardinals should lock up Pujols and everything, but really, is it as dire as many say?  With the Yankees and Red Sox out of it, every other team may be “ready to pounce,” but it also means that the two teams most likely to overpay Pujols are out of it too.  Put differently, the Cardinals don’t have to worry too much about being outbid by anyone if, for some reason, Pujols makes it to free agency after the 2011 season, nor do they have to worry about there being some more notable historically prominent team competing for his services.

I wouldn’t want to wait around if I were the Cardinals — what if Adrian Gonzalez breaks his arm tomorrow and doesn’t re-up with the Red Sox as expected? — but it doesn’t seem like they’d face some dire situation if Pujols does hit the market and other teams start sniffing around. They’d still be the biggest dog and most friendly landing pad for Pujols. They don’t stand to be bidding against anyone with a significantly bigger budget.  They could still get it done just fine.

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)
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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.