The Nationals trailed the Mets 2-0 entering the top of the eighth inning in today’s series finale in Queens. They had a rally brewing against Mets reliever Scott Rice, with runners on first and second thanks to a Steve Lombardozzi single and a Denard Span walk. Werth, 1-for-3 on the day, strode to the plate and did what he normally does: work the count. During the 2012 season, only 12 players saw more than Werth’s average 4.11 pitches per plate appearance. Between 2009-12, only 14 players (min. 1,500 plate appearances) have walked at a higher rate than Werth’s 12.5 percent.
Werth clearly knows what he’s doing at the plate. And when you’re facing a 31-year-old career Minor Leaguer demonstrating a lack of control, you always take. Even if you know he’s going to pump a get-me-over fastball over the heart of the plate, you take. Werth swung, grounding into a rally-killing 6-4-3 double play.
After the game, Werth called that swing “one of the dumber things I’ve done on the field in a while”, per the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.
“I was caught up in the moment,” Werth said. “Looking back, I was trying to do too much. I was trying to win the game right there. That’s it, really. We can sit here and talk about the situation. I was just trying to do too much. The situation got the best of me. That’s probably one of the dumber things I’ve done on the field in a while. Look no further than right here. We had a chance to win the game. I feel like I pretty much blew it.”
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.