Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw usually helps his own cause in the way of striking out lots of hitters and rarely putting them on base with walks. It’s why he’s a two-time Cy Young award winner and has led the league in ERA in each of the last three seasons. But he helped his own cause in a spectacular way in Sunday’s game against the Brewers.
The Dodgers were up 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Brewers were threatening with Rickie Weeks on third base and one out. After Jean Segura worked a 1-1 count, the Brewers decided to try the squeeze play. Segura jabbed his bat at the ball, but sent it up in the air a few feet in front of the plate. Kershaw dashed off of the mound and dove face-first towards the plate, catching the ball just before it could hit the ground. Kershaw then got to his feet and lobbed the ball to Juan Uribe at third base to complete the inning-ending double play.
Quite the play. Kershaw finished the afternoon with his 14th win, limiting the Brewers to one run on six hits and a pair of walks while striking out six over eight innings. He now has a 1.78 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, and a 163/19 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings.
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.