Just when it looked like things couldn’t possibly get any worse, Juan Pierre grounded into two double plays for just the second time in his career Sunday.
He actually did have a hit in four at-bats against the A’s. But he was promptly picked off first base afterwards.
Pierre is currently sitting at .242/.314/.268 for the season. He hasn’t even attempted a steal in 12 days after opening the season by getting caught on eight of his first 14 attempts. His play in left field has also drawn some criticism, though it certainly has more to do with him having the worst arm of any major league outfielder than with any lack of effort.
In spite of it all, manager Ozzie Guillen is standing by his man. As he told the Chicago Tribune:
“He’ll be there batting first again. I don’t worry about him because he’s a professional. He will battle. That’s not the first time he’s been through it. He’ll find a way.”
The White Sox do have alternatives, as I wrote in the Strike Zone on Saturday:
Jordan Danks, John’s younger brother, has been showing big-time power at Triple-A Charlotte and is up to .245/.341/.557 with eight homers and 25 RBI in 106 at-bats. Dayan Viciedo is playing left field for Charlotte most days and is hitting .304/.345/.486 in 138 at-bats. According to reports, Viciedo, who signed with the White Sox as a third baseman, hasn’t displayed much range in left field, so he’d be a clear downgrade from Pierre defensively. Danks would probably be an upgrade there, but he does have big issues making contact (33 strikeouts in 31 games) and I don’t think he’d hit for average in the majors. It still wouldn’t be a bad idea for the White Sox to give Danks a try, but they’ll probably give Pierre a couple of more weeks first.
Guillen certainly won’t be quick to make a switch. But if the White Sox can get better and younger at the same time, they really need to go for 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.