With Bobby Valentine officially gone after months of being left dangling on the hook, the focus in Boston has immediately shifted to Blue Jays manager John Farrell. And I’m left to wonder why.
Now, Farrell had a sterling reputation in five years as Boston’s pitching coach. But managing a team is a different animal. And little Farrell has done in his two years in Toronto suggests that he’s very good at it. The Blue Jays’ lack of leadership was lamented by Omar Vizquel, Jason Frasor and Adam Lind of late, and while they were citing the players, too, it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the manager that they felt the need to speak out.
“If you make mistakes and nobody says anything about it — they just let it go — we’re going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again,” Vizquel said last week. “We have to stand up and say something right after that mistake happened. We have to talk about it at meetings. We have to address it in a big way in the clubhouse.
“Sometimes you have to punish players because they’re making the same mistakes over and over again.”
And the Jays make plenty of mistakes. They were as sloppy as any team in the league on the basepaths this year.
Under Farrell’s guidance, the Jays played .500 ball in 2011 and finished 73-89 this year. It was their worst record since 2004. They allowed their most runs since 2004, even though offense is on the decline.
Now, much of Toronto’s pitching struggles have been the result of injuries, and I’m not going to blame Farrell for the fact that the Jays can’t seem to keep their pitchers healthy. But if pitching is Farrell’s specialty, it’s hard to see what good he’s doing. Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil have regressed under his watch. Only Brandon Morrow has taken a big step forward, and he was limited to 21 starts this year.
So, no, I don’t see Farrell as the answer in Boston or really anywhere else. The idea that the Red Sox should trade a couple of quality prospects or even Clay Buchholz to get him is ludicrous.
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.