Saturday’s Nationals-Dodgers game had it all.
Nats ace Stephen Strasburg fanned nine batters and yielded just one run over seven stellar frames.
Nats phenom Bryce Harper made his major league debut, tallying his first hit (a double to center), his first RBI (on a sacrifice fly) and showing off his elite arm with a missile from left field to home plate.
But it was baseball’s best all-around player who ultimately stole the show. After being stymied in three at-bats against Strasburg, Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp launched a Tom Gorzelanny pitch deep into the night to give Los Angeles a 4-3 walkoff win in the bottom of the 10th inning at Chavez Ravine. Kemp is now batting .442/.506/.922 with 11 home runs and 24 RBI in 21 games. He’s on another planet, people.
Your Saturday box scores:
Nationals 3, Dodgers 4
Angels 2, Indians 1
Brewers 3, Cardinals 7
Tigers 7, Yankees 5
Mariners 0, Blue Jays 7
Astros 0, Reds 6
Athletics 1, Orioles 10
Cubs 2, Phillies 5
Red Sox 1, White Sox 0
Pirates 4, Braves 2
Diamondbacks 2, Marlins 3
Rays 2, Rangers 7
Mets 7, Rockies 5
Padres 1, Giants 2
Royals, Twins (Postponed)
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.