chase utley underrated

Chase Utley’s status for Opening Day in doubt as he seeks “additional opinions” on knee injury

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As expected, the Phillies’ announcement this morning regarding Chase Utley’s knee injury doesn’t contain any good news.

Team trainer Michael Ciccotti issued a statement saying that the knee problems have not responded to treatment as well as they have in the past and “an MRI was obtained that demonstrated his prior tendinitis, chondromalacia, and bone inflammation.”

Ciccotti went on to say that “continued non-operative treatment is being carried out and additional opinions will be obtained.”

In other words, the Phillies will continue to treat the injury without surgery but going under the knife (or “additional options”) may eventually be required.

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com has the full statement, which includes a whole bunch of doctorspeak that’s not likely to make Phillies fans feel very good.

As for Utley’s return timetable, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “wouldn’t rule out Opening Day … but also downplayed the importance of players being ready for Opening Day.”

Which is another way of saying Utley being in the Opening Day lineup is now unlikely and the Phillies are facing the possibility of extended middle infield action for utility man Wilson Valdez for a second straight season. Valdez started 75 games in place of Utley at second base and Jimmy Rollins at shortstop last season, hitting just .258 with a .667 OPS and remarkable 20 double plays in 363 plate appearances.

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.