Phillies spring training as off to a spectacular start. The offense is pretty awful. Pitchers are getting hurt. Jimmy Rollins is having one of his occasional spats with his manager about his perceived effort.
Rollins, despite being healthy, has been out of the lineup for three straight days, with Freddy Galvis taking his place. When asked about that yesterday, Sandberg sounded frustrated with Rollins. Specifically, after he praised Freddy Galvis for his “energy” and his “positive influence on everyone around him,” he offered a “no comment” when asked if Rollins provides such things.
This morning reporters found Rollins and asked him about Sandberg’s “no comment.” Rollins said he had no problem with Sandberg and that he’s the manager, so “he gets to have the last say.” But he also made it clear that he disagreed with Sandberg, saying “everyone is allowed to have their opinion. That doesn’t make it right.”
It’s probably worth noting at this point that Sandberg has taken some behind the scenes criticism for approaching spring training in a rather intense manner. When I was in Clearwater last week Sandberg had the entire team out on the field on a gameday doing cutoff and infield drills on the main field. It was noted by some around me — people who have observed the Phillies for several years — that it was pretty unusual for them to do that, and that perhaps Sandberg was trying to send a message or make a point at best, trying way too hard at worst. That it was a little drill sergeanty for the first week of March with a veteran team.
Which makes me wonder how much of this is about Jimmy Rollins being Jimmy Rollins — a guy who has butted heads with managers and has been criticized for lack of effort in the past — and how much of this is about Ryne Sandberg being at an 11 when most players would expect him to be at a 6.
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.