The joke was on Shin-Soo Choo for most of Monday’s Reds-Cardinals game, as the newly converted center fielder dropped a pair of Yadier Molina flyballs to give St. Louis three of its four runs.
Then came the top of the ninth inning. With Cardinals closer Mitchell Boggs in a 4-4 game, the Reds exploded — well, that’s probably not precisely the right word — for nine runs, turning the NL Central battle into a 13-4 laugher.
Here’s how the inning went:
– Shin-Soo Choo walked
– Chris Heisey fouled off a sac bunt attempt, then popped out (1st out)
– Choo advanced to second on a wild pitch
– Joey Votto was intentionally walked
– Brandon Phillips flared a ball down the right field line that bounced off the chalk for an RBI double (5-4)
– Jay Bruce was intentionally walked, loading the bases
– Todd Frazier walked (6-4)
– Jack Hannahan grounded to third, David Freese bobbled, everyone safe on infield single (7-4)
– Ryan Hanigan grounded to short, Pete Kozma bobbled, everyone safe on error (8-4)
At this point, Boggs finally gets pulled in favor of Marc Rzepczynski
– Cesar Izturis singled to right (9-4)
– Shin-Soo Choo tripled to left (12-4)
– Chris Heisey grounded out (2nd out)
– Joey Votto singled to left (13-4)
– Brandon Phillips walked
– Jay Bruce grounded one off Rzepczynski’s glove for an infield single
– Todd Frazier struck out (3rd out)
Two intentional walks, three regular walks. An error and two more infield singles that could have been errors.
In all, it was pretty much the ugliest inning you’ll ever see from a good baseball team. Boggs and Rzepczynski combined to throw 52 pitches to 16 batters. Boggs was charged with six earned runs, taking his ERA to 14.54. Rzepczynski gave up two runs.
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.