The Athletics entered the weekend’s three-game set with the Blue Jays the proud owners of baseball’s best offense, averaging 5.2 runs per game. They had no idea they were about to run into a Canadian buzzsaw. The Jays, behind starters Liam Hendriks, R.A. Dickey, and J.A. Happ, held the A’s to five runs over three games including Sunday’s 3-1 victory to complete a series sweep.
If you haven’t been paying close attention, the Jays snuck into first place in the AL East after Wednesday’s win over the Red Sox and maintain their two-game edge over the second-place Yankees. The Jays have won 11 of their last 13 games. Edwin Encarnacion has been on absolute fire, blasting 12 home runs in the month of May, including six in his last seven games. His slash line is up to .254/.332/.553. Starter Mark Buehrle is 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA. Jose Bautista has 12 home runs and a .965 OPS. Dickey has turned in seven consecutive quality starts. Casey Janssen is 7-for-7 in save chances since making his season debut on May 12 after spending six weeks on the disabled list.
We don’t know if the Jays can keep playing at this level. After all, on this date last season, the Dodgers were 20-27 in last place and six games out of first place in the NL West. A lot can change between now and the end of the regular season. But as of right now, the Jays are certainly starting to draw some attention and respect, rightfully so.
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.