Yesterday the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter announced a two-year, $21 million contract extension that takes the place of a $15 million team option or $1 million buyout for 2012.
Even at age 35 he remains one of the best starters in the league and either through the $15 million option or free agency Carpenter likely could have gotten more than $21 million between 2012 and 2013.
However, during his press conference the former Cy Young winner explained that he never wanted to leave St. Louis and felt a strong sense of loyalty to the Cardinals for giving him an opportunity after injuries had derailed his career:
It’s about being a St. Louis Cardinal for the rest of my career. They have done a ton for me and my family. They’ve stuck with me through times when I’ve been hurt. … I wasn’t excited about jumping around to different organizations if I wanted to continue to play. My wife has been a huge support for me and I know it excites her to be able to stay here also.
It seems likely that the Cardinals would have exercised his $15 million option for 2012 had Carpenter balked at an extension, so he likely saved them $4.5 million for next season in addition to signing on for a reasonable $10.5 million salary in 2013.
That doesn’t qualify him for sainthood or anything–after all, Carpenter has already earned about $65 million during his career–but it’s always nice to see a player decide he’d rather have $21 million and stay where he’s enjoyed playing rather than go elsewhere for, say, $25 million. Too often those type of decisions seem driven by an amount of money that will have zero tangible impact on the player’s life.
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.