The last-place Nationals dropped their fifth consecutive game on Wednesday against the Brewers, which caused Jayson Werth to proclaim that “things need to change.”
His quotes didn’t sound all that out of the ordinary for a team that’s regularly losing baseball games, but many speculated that Werth was directing his frustration towards Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.
Well, Riggleman had a chance to clear the air with the high-priced outfielder earlier this morning. According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington, Werth assured him that the comments weren’t directed towards him specifically.
“I guess the short answer is no.”
“The long answer is, you know … ‘changes.’ We’ve got to start winning ballgames,” Riggleman continued. “The losing that has taken place here for a couple years, that’s got to change. We’ve got to change some things with how we play.”
It’s difficult to change things when the Nationals just don’t have the personnel to make it happen. Ryan Zimmerman has only played eight games this season and Adam LaRoche has basically been a shell of himself because of tears in his labrum and rotator cuff, so Werth hasn’t had any real proven protection around him. The Nationals entered play tonight with a .229 team batting average, second-worst in the majors behind the Padres.
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.