The resurgent campaigns of Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir played a significant part in why the Indians won 92 games and made it to the American League Wild Card game, but the club will likely have some rotation holes to fill this winter. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that “little progress” has been made in negotiations with either pitcher and believes that they will find better offers elsewhere.
Jimenez already declined his part of an $8 million mutual option with the Indians and is expected to turn down a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer before Monday’s deadline. The 29-year-old right-hander was a mess during most of his time in Cleveland, but he’s understandably looking to cash in after some mechanical changes resulted in a 1.82 ERA and 100/27 K/BB ratio in 84 innings after the All-Star break.
Kazmir was one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season, returning from obscurity to post a 4.04 ERA and 162/47 K/BB ratio over 158 innings while showing his best fastball velocity since he was a member of the Rays. He doesn’t turn 30 until January and hopes to parlay his bounce-back season into a multi-year deal. Meanwhile, the Indians don’t want to go beyond one year.
There could also be some changes in Cleveland’s bullpen, as Hoynes speculates that relievers Joe Smith and Matt Albers are unlikely to return in 2014.
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.