Last Sam Miller of the OC Register/Baseball Prospectus noticed something neat: Russell Martin declares himself to be in The Best Shape of His Life just about every single year. Really: Here he is in 2008, here he is in 2009, here he is in 2010 and here he is last year.
So, shocker, but Martin is out there crowing about how he’s in good shape once again. From Yahoo!
Russell Martin is healthy going into spring training, a change from his first season as a Yankee, when he was finishing up rehab on an injured hip and knee. Before 2011 spring training, Martin had little chance to build power in his legs, so a full winter of workouts “will be a huge difference,” Martin told the New York Daily News. Martin believes, in fact, that he might be the fittest Yankee in camp this year. “If there’s any guys in more shape than me, I”d be surprised,” Martin said. “If there are, I’d be happy, because I’m coming ready this year.” Martin also said he’s already begun taking swings, something he didn’t do until a few days before spring training began last year.
So, last year’s claim that he was “in the best shape of his career” was a bald-faced lie? Say it ain’t so, Russ!
And if it is so then — brace yourselves people — it’s possible that all of these players claiming to be in such great shape are full of baloney and are making such claims either because (a) they are taking kindly to reporters by throwing them a meaningless bone when they have nothing else to report; or (b) they are trying to mask eroding baseball skills with a sheen of positive P.R.
I know. Crazy.
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.