Both last season and this season Diamondbacks fans have booed Justin Upton at Chase Field when he’s in a slump, with last night’s booing being particularly loud after he went 0-for-5 in a loss to the Padres.
Asked afterward what getting booed by his own fans feels like, the 24-year-old right fielder said:
To be honest with you, I don’t care anything what the fans think of me. My teammates, my coaches, they know I come here and I bust it every single day. I try to do everything I can to help this team. My teammates have my back and whatever the fans want to think, they can think. They can call me lazy. I have heard that in the outfield. They can call me washed up. Whatever they want to call me but at the end of the day I am thankful for every opportunity to come out on a baseball field and I will try my hardest every day.
I’m sure the same fans who boo Upton will find a way to spin those comments as reason to boo him even more, but that seems like a pretty reasonable response to me. Or at least more reasonable than screaming “boo!” at a good player on your home team because he’s not playing well.
And while Upton has struggled for much of this season, particularly when it comes to power hitting, he’s hardly been disastrous with a .263 batting average and .722 OPS. He’s also still just 24 years old and coming off an All-Star season in which he hit .289 with 31 homers and 21 steals. All of that seems to have been forgotten, which is similar to what I’ve seen first-hand in Minnesota from Twins fans who’ve frequently booed Joe Mauer at Target Field both last season and this season.
Like it or not, once a great player signs a big contract a certain segment of the fan base expects him to go 3-for-5 with a homer every single game while never getting hurt or falling into a prolonged slump and is all too eager to lash out when those unreachable expectations aren’t met.
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.