The ninth inning of today’s Reds-Phillies series finale was full of statistical improbabilities. First, Delmon Young drew a four-pitch walk (yes, Delmon Young walked) against Aroldis Chapman. He was immediately replaced by pitcher and pinch-runner Cliff Lee. With Erik Kratz at the plate battling Chapman in a 2-2 count, the lefty reliever picked Lee off of first, seemingly a momentum and rally killer.
(Why did Phillies manager Charlie Manuel pinch-run with a pitcher instead of John Mayberry, Jr.? He wanted to save a right-handed bat to pinch-hit for reliever Antonio Bastardo later in the inning. Lee has pinch-run for the Phillies many times in the past, and is better at the task than Young.)
Kratz worked the count to 3-2, then drove a Chapman fastball over the fence in left field for a game-tying solo home run. It was the second consecutive game in which Chapman has forked over a lead. On Thursday, Chapman allowed an inherited runner to score on a Marcell Ozuna triple.
With a freshly-tied game and one out, Freddy Galvis — getting a rare start today — took his turn at the dish. With a 1-1 count, Chapman placed a fastball letter-high over the plate, which the normally light-hitting Galvis laced down the left field line, whizzing over the top of the fence above the 334-foot sign in the corner, giving the Phillies the walk-off 3-2 victory. It is the first time in Chapman’s career (157 games) that he allowed two home runs in one outing.
Despite the good vibes from the win, the Phillies did receive some bad injury-related news. Carlos Ruiz had left the game with a hamstring injury and Ryan Howard was given the day off due to soreness in his right knee, and both will be out tomorrow as they will have MRI’s. Matt Gelb reported that the duo did not fly with the team as they head to Miami for a nine-game road trip.
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.