Placido Polanco was voted into the All-Star game as a starter yesterday despite a modest .681 OPS that ranks 59th among NL hitters and the third baseman admitted to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he’s been playing through a back injury:
I hate to use excuses, but it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel right. My back is a little sore. I have a pinched nerve where I feel some numbness in my leg. It’s playable. It’s not painful to the point I can’t play.
Polanco got off to a great start, batting .398 in April, but he’s hit just .219 with an awful .541 OPS in 56 games since then, including 0-for-12 so far in July, dragging his season totals down to career-lows in batting average (.277), slugging percentage (.349), and OPS (.681).
It’s tough to say a player should be benched the day after he’s voted in as an All-Star game starter, but at some point it should become obvious that the Phillies will be better off giving Polanco at least the occasional day off in the second half. He’s not doing anyone any good by playing poorly through the injury every day.
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.