The Angels have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for free agent closers this winter, but the team isn’t planning on making any changes. Or at least that’s what they are saying right now.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was on MLB Network Radio on Sirius-XM yesterday and told host Mel Antonen that Ernesto Frieri will be the closer in 2014. While this sounds like a vote of confidence, it could be an attempt to downplay interest in some of the big-name closers on the market, including Joe Nathan and Grant Balfour.
Frieri is coming off an up-and-down year in which he posted a 3.80 ERA and 98/30 K/BB ratio over 68 2/3 innings while going 37-for-41 in save chances. Known as a fly ball pitcher, he gave up 11 home runs after allowing 12 combined between 2011 and 2012. The 28-year-old right-hander is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.
You can listen to part of Dipoto’s interview on Sirius-XM here, where he also touches on yesterday’s acquisition of David Freese.
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.