Like most left-handed hitters Adam Dunn has been much weaker versus left-handed pitchers throughout his career, but he has still been an asset against southpaws with an .810 OPS that is, for instance, higher than the overall career OPS of guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Ivan Rodriguez, Michael Young, Vernon Wells, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre, and Torii Hunter.
However, so far this season Dunn has been helpless against left-handed pitching. In fact, STATS Inc. passed along a startling stat: Dunn has yet to get a hit off a lefty in 30 at-bats, striking out 13 times while getting on base three times via walks.
He’s also not clobbering right-handed pitching like he usually does, which is why Dunn has hit just .190 with four homers and a .653 OPS through 40 games of a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox. Despite the 0-for-30 against lefties and overall struggles, manager Ozzie Guillen said yesterday that he’s sticking with Dunn as Chicago’s third-place hitter:
When I bench him, I’m going to bench him for a day off, not because I’m punishing him. What can I do? This guy is very important in our lineup. We’re just waiting for him to hit, and the only way he’s going to hit is to play him.
Dunn’s long swing and prolific strikeout totals perhaps make him more prone to slumps than most hitters his caliber, but Guillen is absolutely right. There’s no reason to overreact to 40 bad games from a 31-year-old hitter who’s topped an .850 OPS in seven straight seasons and has never finished with an OPS below .800.
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.