As is usually the case, the Tigers closer situation is uncertain heading into the offseason. That’s because the guy they finally got to stick in the role this past season — Joaquin Benoit — is a free agent. Dave Dombrowski addressed the closer role and other matters yesterday, and John Lowe of the Free Press has the story.
Upshot: sounds like they’re not messing around with Bruce Rondon again. Maybe he’s in the major league bullpen mix, but the Tigers are going to try for a proven closer (to the extent that term means anything). Benoit is one of the proven closer candidates, by the way. Because unlike last May he is now proven. Or something.
Also: Dombrowski surprised no one in saying that it’s unlikely that Jhonny Peralta will be back. They have a shortstop in Jose Iglesias, he said, and while Peralta got some time in left field for Detroit in the playoffs, they still think of him as an infielder. You figure that Peralta will shop himself as a shortstop too, given the relative dearth of offense at that position in the game.
Oh, and go to the end of the article for the mention of Robinson Cano. It’s the first time I’ve seen anyone mention him and the Tigers in the same breath. My assumption is that it’ll be among the last too, as the Tigers’ payroll is already huge. Of course I didn’t think they’d sign Prince Fielder until the moment they did too, so never say never.
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.