Just minutes after the Nationals beat the Mariners with a walk-off sacrifice fly in a 1-0 game to move above .500 manager Jim Riggleman announced his resignation.
According to general manager Mike Rizzo this morning Riggleman expressed displeasure about his contract, which includes a 2012 option that the Nationals haven’t picked up, and said he would step down from the job if it wasn’t handled by the end of this afternoon’s game.
It wasn’t and he did.
What an odd situation, particularly with the Nationals playing their best baseball in … well, ever. Riggleman was clearly extremely frustrated by the entire situation, but to quit 75 games into the season, with the team winning 11 of their last 12 games, is shocking. Or maybe he’s just a huge George Costanza fan and a big believer in leaving on a high note.
By quitting now Riggleman does finish a season with a winning record for just the third time in 12 years as a big-league manager. His overall career mark is 662-824, which equals a .445 winning percentage that ranks as the fourth-worst in baseball history among managers with 10 or more years of experience.
UPDATE: Riggleman held a press conference and said he approached Rizzo requesting to “just have a conversation” about the contract and Rizzo refused, at which point Riggleman felt it was clear “I’m not the guy they want to go down the road with” and quit with three months remaining on his current contract.
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.