MLB did the fair thing Sunday, disclosing that Manny Ramirez would only have to serve half of the 100-game suspension he was set to receive before he announced his retirement last year. Still, how much of a favor that does the 12-time All-Star remains to be seen.
The best Ramirez could do last winter when he came with considerably less baggage was $2 million from the Rays. Now he’s a year older, coming off practically a full year off and he’s going to miss one-third of the season. It’s anyone’s guess how much he has left in his bat.
Ramirez figures to be looked at primarily as a DH, and the DH market is already crowded, what with David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Magglio Ordonez available. Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel and Raul Ibanez could fit into that mix, too.
Teams likely to sign full-time designated hitters include the Red Sox, Rays, Orioles and Mariners. The Blue Jays, A’s and Twins could as well.
But no team in search of a DH is going to want to commit to Ramirez and then wait two months for him. For that reason, Ramirez’s best bet might be the National League. A team like the Reds or Marlins could give him a minor league contract and then bring him up to serve as a pinch-hitter on June 1. It might well be the best Manny can do.
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.