The Cardinals have stormed out to an early lead over the Pirates in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett completely melted down in the bottom of the third inning, giving up seven runs before being pulled from the ballgame. He failed to record an out in the nightmare frame.
The ugly inning started with a leadoff walk to Adam Wainwright and a single from Matt Carpenter, which set up a long three-run homer from Carlos Beltran which landed in the second deck inside the right field foul pole. Burnett then gave up a double to Matt Holliday and hit Matt Adams with a pitch before walking Yadier Molina and Jon Jay to force in a run. David Freese followed with a single down the right field line to score two more runs while a third run scored on a throwing error by Marlon Byrd. That was enough for Clint Hurdle to finally bring the hook.
According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the seven runs scored by the Cardinals are an NLDS record for an inning. It might be time to start thinking ahead to Game 2.
As for Beltran, his postseason excellence continues. He now has 15 home runs in 153 plate appearances in the postseason, tying him with Babe Ruth for eighth all-time. As our own Matthew Pouliot points out, his 1.275 OPS is the best all-time among players with at least 100 plate appearances. You can watch the video of his third-inning blast below:
Meanwhile, Wainwright has been brilliant on the mound for the Cardinals. He has sat down all nine batters he has faced while striking out three. The Cardinals lead it 7-0 as we move to the top of the fourth inning.
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.