That work that Joe Mauer is getting a first base is clearly designed to (a) get his bat in the lineup more often; and (b) potentially cover for what could be the loss of Justin Morneau for the rest of the season. But there’s at least one guy who may be happy to see Mauer at first for another reason. That guy is Twins reliever Jose Mijares.
I had missed this over the weekend, but on Friday, Mijares got a bit angry at Mauer over the pitches he called during Mijares’ brief and unsuccessful seventh inning appearance against Prince Fielder. What’s more, he took the unusual step of calling out Mauer for it after the game:
“I don’t know what was going on with Mauer,” Mijares said after the Twins fell back to 10 games below .500. “He never put the sign for breaking ball. Never. Fastball, fastball, fastball. Fastball. Last pitch, I’d like to throw a breaking ball. He said fastball. OK.”
Ron Gardenhire wasn’t happy with the pitch selection either, though it seems that he placed blame on both Mijares and Mauer:
“A lefthander’s gotta come in and hopefully spin some pitches. If you just throw fastballs — I could leave a righthander in to throw fastballs. That’s the way I look at it.”
In all, the lefty Mijares threw six pitches, all of them fastballs. Why, if he felt so strongly about it, he didn’t shake off Mauer or have a little conference about it on the mound is an open question. And of course, if that last fastball to Fielder was any good, Fielder wouldn’t have smacked it for a go-ahead double. For Mauer’s part, he said that Mijares’ slider had been erratic lately, and he worried about walking Fielder. Though, really, a walk to Fielder may not have been awful there.
Either way, it’s not often that you see a reliever — let alone the manager — quibble with pitch selection like this after a game. Especially in a way that calls out an MVP catcher like Mauer.
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.