The Mets are willing to try anything — and I mean anything — change their losing ways. Even if they have to blame inanimate objects for their bad luck.
Prior to Thursday’s game against the Astros, the Mets destroyed “Stanley,” a black and yellow rolling toolbox that had become the bullpen’s mascot. It held some of the essentials (and non-essentials) such as candy, medical supplies, fingernail clippers, Krazy Glue and miscellaneous toys.
It would be one thing if this was just some superstitious act by the players and coaches, but as David Waldstein of the New York Times explains, the directive came from Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, who is in charge of daily operations for the team.
After watching the Mets lose 12 of 14 games and fall to the worst record in baseball, and with everyone on the team searching for real or symbolic methods to change the fortunes, Wilpon issued a simple decree: “Get rid of Stanley.”
Wilpon gave his order to Dan Warthen, the pitching coach. So, on Thursday afternoon, Warthen asked every player and coach to donate an article of clothing or piece of equipment to place inside Stanley as a sacrifice. Most obliged, and then, as in a scene out of a movie, Stanley was taken into a back room before the game and ceremonially obliterated with bats.
“Stanley” has been replaced by a pink backpack, which is being worn by rookie right-hander Pedro Beato.
Correlation doesn’t imply causation here, but hey, whatever works, right? The Mets have now won consecutive games for the first time since the first week of the season.
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.