While the Rays were beating up on CC Sabathia last night, Alex Rodriguez was busy working his way back into shape against minor league competition.
A-Rod went 2-for-3 with a solo homer last night in his first minor league rehab game with High-A Tampa. Serving as the designated hitter, he slugged a solo homer in his first at-bat in the first inning, doubled in the third and struck out looking in his final at-bat in the fifth.
Rodriguez was homerless over his final 85 at-bats before hitting the disabled list, but told Chris Girandola of MLB.com that he is hopeful he will be able to hit the ball with more authority following knee surgery.
“I wasn’t driving the ball like I was used to, so for me, the home run meant a little more than just a home run because the last several weeks I was playing, I wasn’t able to drive the ball. My team expects me to hit the ball out of the park and hit with a lot more production and that’s what I expect out of myself, too. So hopefully I can come back and hit the ground running and help my team win the division.”
The plan is for Rodriguez to play again today and work out tomorrow before taking the day off Monday. He will then play with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday and Wednesday before rejoining the Yankees next Thursday night against the Twins.
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.