I got an email a few minutes ago with a link to Howard Megdal’s Sports On Earth article about Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons. That’s like sending porn to a sex addict. How that didn’t go straight into the spam folder with all the other offers sent in order to appeal to my prurient interests I have no idea. All I know is that if anyone needs me, I’ll be in my bunk.
While I’m gone, go read Megdal’s piece. In it he asks Fredi Gonzalez to compare Simmons and Ozzie Smith. Which, after one gets past the silliness of comparing a Hall of Famer to a guy in his second full year and allows themselves to take a few magical leaps of faith, isn’t the silliest comparison at all.
But no matter how you fall on that — defensive metrics are still in their infancy, making such comparisons even more difficult than they seem at first — it’s undeniable that Simmons is the best defensive shortstop in the game and that his offense, while still a work in progress, doesn’t have to be that much better to transform him from the best defenders in the game into one of the best players in the game, full stop.
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.