Jair Jurrjens would still be in the minors right now if it wasn’t for Brandon Beachy’s Tommy John surgery, but he made the most out of his opportunity last night.
Jurrjens shined in his return to the majors by limiting the Red Sox to one run over 7 2/3 innings as part of a 4-1 victory. He walked one and struck out four and carried a one-hit shutout through the first seven innings. The only run scored on a double by Daniel Nava in the bottom of the eighth inning which chased him from the game.
Jurrjens made the National League All-Star team last year, but he was limited to just seven starts during the second half due to continued issues with his right knee. His struggles continued in the early part of this season, as he was demoted to the minors in late April after being hammered to the tune of a 9.37 ERA over his first four starts. His results weren’t much better during his time with Triple-A Gwinnett, as he had a 5.10 ERA over 10 starts.
While Jurrjens appears healthy at the moment, his velocity has been missing in action for quite some time now. Even though he was effective last night, he averaged just 89 mph on his fastball and relied heavily on his changeup. He averaged between 91-92 mph on his heater from 2007-2010. Last night was obviously an encouraging step in the right direction and a few more outings like it could lessen the sense of urgency for a trade, but he still has a lot to prove.
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.