Over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carroll Rogers has a Q&A with Chipper Jones. There’s some stuff in there about how he’s lost a bunch of weight and is eating better, but I can’t in good conscience say that he’s In the Best Shape of His Life. Because Jones — who has always come off as a frank, brass tacks kind of guy in interviews — knows that’s not true. He’s old for a ballplayer and he feels it every day:
I’d be lying if I said the game wasn’t really, really fast for me right now. It seems like everybody is throwing 100 mph. The pitchers’ mound gets closer to home plate whenever you’re hitting, and third base gets farther away from first base. I can remember thinking to myself a couple times running down to first base last year, I’d put my head down and I’d run. When I was 25, when I’d look up the base would be a step and a half away. Now I put my head down and I look up, I’m not even halfway there. And it’s a little deflating and a little depressing.
Jones misses a lot of time now. He’s obviously not the player he was. But he is growing old more gracefully than most guys who are fortunate enough to play baseball at age 39, simply by virtue of knowing that he’s getting up there.
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.