I get piling on old Bobby Valentine all winter. The bad season still lingers. You have to assess what happened until at least the Winter Meetings, and then you have to talk about all the new moves with reference to why they were necessary in the first place. But you’d think that when the new spring training began that the blame game from 2012 would be over. For it not to be is a special kind of madness.
Madness? THIS IS BOSTON:
David Ortiz never mentioned him by name, but on Tuesday blamed former manager Bobby Valentine for many of the problems plaguing the last-place Boston Red Sox last season.
“A lot of players had a lot of issues with our manager last year,’’ said Ortiz, responding to a question whether the club, which finished 69-93 last season, needed to improve its character. “We have a new manager this year, a guy who is familiar with the organization, a guy we pretty much grew up around him. That’s John [Farrell].
Ortiz goes into more specifics, but there’s really nothing we haven’t heard before. Tone. Incidents from last year’s spring training. Ortiz has a legit beef about Valentine questioning whether he was able to come back after his injury last year, but for the most part this seems like warmed over oatmeal.
It’s a new year. Valentine is gone. Look forward, right?
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.