It’s moot because (a) Mariano Rivera doesn’t play baseball for a living anymore; and (b) even if he did, Robinson Cano doesn’t play for the Yankees anymore. But if you think those two little facts are going to get in the way of these quotes from Rivera’s new book blowing up big, you’re not familiar with the Red Sox-Yankees Industrial Complex.
First, his thoughts on Cano, excerpted by the New York Daily News:
“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start . . . There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best … You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”
Then, on Dustin Pedroia:
“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It’s a special thing to see. If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”
Others in and around the Yankees have questioned Cano’s motivation and effort in the past and Pedroia has long been praised for his passion and intensity and all of that. Obviously they’re both great players, each has proven that if they’re your starting second baseman you can win a World Series and debates will rage for years about who was better. Personally, I’d take Cano’s durability and production over Pedroia’s, I’d take Pedroia’s contract over Cano’s and if I had one game to pick only one to be in there I’d wonder how in the hell that set of impossible and hypothetical circumstances came to be.
But such nuances are lost when it comes to this sort of thing. I expect reporters to try to put both Cano and Pedroia on the spot about this. I expect it to be portrayed as a big controversy as opposed to some mildly interesting comments in the course of a long book and I expect at least one sort of outraged and ridiculous column to come of it assassinating one of the three principles’ character in all of this. Maybe two.
Put simply: I expect this to go like every other silly Yankees-Red Sox dustup. Which is OK, because those are kind of fun.
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.