With Ubaldo Jimenez off the board, Ervin Santana is the last big name starting pitcher available in free agency. Maybe not for much longer, though.
Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Orioles, Rangers, and a mystery team from the NL West team are very interested in free agent right-hander Ervin Santana. And while Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos continues to downplay the possibility, Rojas isn’t ready to rule out Toronto just yet.
The Rangers make sense as a possibility given Derek Holland’s knee injury and Matt Harrison’s continued back issues. The Orioles are already prepared to give up their first- and second-round picks for Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, so they’d surrender a third-round pick if they also sign Santana. Talk about going for broke. As for who the mystery NL West team could be, you can never rule out the Dodgers. The Rockies have the biggest need among the other teams in the division, though Santana would seem to be a poor fit for Coors Field.
Santana, 31, had a 3.24 ERA and 161/51 K/BB ratio over 211 innings with the Royals last season.
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.