A couple of years ago there was a thing where Phillies fans would descend on Washington and buy up all the Nats-Phillies tickets for games played at Nats Park. Citizens Bank Park was always sold out. No one went to Nats games. The cities are relatively close. It made a lot of sense that Phillies fans would do that. Even if it really ticked off Nationals fans who hated to have their park invaded by outsiders. It became such a thing that they invented “Nattitude” as a counter-marketing effort. Really, all of that sprung from Phillies fans taking over and the Nats trying to take their park back.
A couple of disappointing seasons for the Phillies later and it’s a totally different deal. The Nationals are in Philly this weekend. The weather forecast looks grand. Cliff Lee is on the mound. And the Phillies are offering discounted tickets in earnest. Crossing Broad says it’s a buy-one-get-one-free sale. The Good Phight says it’s more of a 50% off deal of select seats, but notes that it is a pretty early promotion suggesting sluggish ticket sales.
Which, hey, it happens. As all of you are quick to point out every time some NL East thing comes up, the Braves don’t do all that well at the gate so they’ve probably been discounting tickets since the second game of the season. That’s undeniably true.
But Braves fans have never claimed fan intensity, passion and support as some singularly awesome trait they possess like Phillies fans have over the past few years. The thing that set them apart and made them better than any other fans. The abject rejection of the notion that, as is the case with most teams, winning teams draw and losing teams don’t and that, rather, it’s a function of their exceptional enthusiasm for their team. Now they’re discounting what should be a pretty hot ticket, relatively speaking. Like any other mediocre team does.
Here’s hoping a bunch of Nats fans get on a bus and make it Nats Park North. That’d be cool. And next year we’d get self-helpy-sounding promotions like “Phillatude” or whatever.
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.