I’d “quote of the day” this, but it came from a different day. Last week, in fact, after Bud Selig announced that expanded playoffs are an inevitability. Here’s Tim Lincecum:
“It doesn’t seem very fair, and personally, I don’t know where his head is at. Players like it the way it is. It’s dog-eat-dog. People know they need to win 11 games to win the World Series.”
Just worth throwing out there because, as he often does, when Selig officially announces that the playoffs will be expanded, he will claim the existence of a total consensus on the idea. That claim will be false, and the dissenters won’t be limited to cranky bloggers. Players understand the inherent unfairness of a one-game playoff if that’s the form it takes. They also dislike multiple days off, as division winners will face in the event the expanded format is a multi-game series between the wild cards.
By the way: I came across that quote in a good piece by Jim Litke of the Associated Press contrasting Selig’s handling of the expanded playoffs with his decision to leave Barry Bonds’ records in tact. I think Litke’s explanation of the inherent pragmatism in Selig’s approach to Bonds is the best I’ve seen and I recommend it.
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.