It only takes one person to make a movement these days, so sure, let’s call it a movement. It’s from Bill Chuck at Billy-Ball:
I urge Jim Leyland and the powers that be in Major League Baseball that the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game on July 16 at Citi Field in New York City for the American League should be none other than the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera.
Why you ask?
Why not, I reply.
And he explains his reasoning. The one argument of nine he makes that I actually kinda like is that it would pit Mariano against the NL’s best as opposed to the 30-35th guys on the roster in a late-inning, possibly non-save situation.
But overall? Blah. Mariano Rivera is a closer. He pitches the ninth inning. Though we may not like modern pitcher usage models, that’s his job. And that’s before acknowledging that giving him the start deprives a worthy starting pitcher of the job. For what? Some spotlight and attention for Rivera? As if he hasn’t received enough accolades already? For cryin’ out loud, people treat him like a near-Jesus figure as it is.
I love Rivera. I agree that the All-Star Game has devolved into a spectacle as it is. But this seems silly and unnecessary to me. Wanna get behind a good cause? Let’s get Vin Scully to broadcast the World Series first.
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.