We’ve seen renewed speculation over the past 24 hours that the Cardinals could make a run at Roy Oswalt now that Chris Carpenter is sidelined indefinitely due to nerve irritation in his shoulder. While that may still happen, it appears that a surprise team has entered the mix.
Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM reported in the wee small hours of the morning that the Angels have “suddenly” emerged as the frontrunner for Oswalt’s services. He adds that the Red Sox are still in the picture while the Cardinals and Rangers have faded as possible landing spots.
The assumption all winter was that Oswalt preferred to pitch for St. Louis or Texas in order to be closer to his home in Mississippi, but it appears that he’s willing to broaden his scope with a midseason return in mind. As ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick recently noted, Oswalt’s kids will done with school in June, so he could bring his family with him wherever he goes.
The Angels have Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana leading their rotation, but they don’t have much in the way of quality depth beyond that. Jerome Williams entered spring training as the favorite for the fifth starter gig, but he is working his way back from a hamstring injury. Other possibilities include Garrett Richards, Trevor Bell, Brad Mills and Eric Hurley.
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.