Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Loney's grand slam carries Dodgers past Cubs

Wow, what a way to start the postseason!

For the first time in... well, forever... the Dodgers were clicking on all cylinders by hitting 3 home runs as they cruised past the Chicago Cubs in Game 1, 7-2. Down 2-0 in the 5th, the Dodgers ran off 7 straight runs to put the game away with ease.

The game started off with Ryan Dempster and Derek Lowe displaying why they were the Game 1 starters. Dempster got Rafael Furcal swinging, and after a walk to Russell Martin, got Manny Ramirez to ground into a DP. Lowe came right back a strikeout of Alfonso Soriano, and retired Kosuke Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez on grounders.

Things started to have a familiar feeling in the 2nd, as Mark DeRosa hit a 2-run homer that just got out in right. Lowe was pitching very well, but elevated one just a bit too much around the outside of the plate. For us Dodger fans, you couldn't help but start thinking "here we go again" when that was hit. Little did we know, that would be it for the Cubs on this night.

The Dodgers had their chances in the 3rd when the bases were loaded with 2 down, but Andre Ethier struck out swinging on a 3-2 count on a pitch low and away. While the Dodgers in the past would have wilted away, this team kept battling and turned the game around in the 5th. Dempster did them a huge favor by walking Furcal, Manny, and Ethier with 2 down.

James Loney then stepped up and became an instant LA star with a HUGE grand slam to dead center to give the Dodgers the lead for good. Up 4-2, the Dodgers never looked back.

More runs were tacked on eventually, starting in the 7th when Manny golfed one out to left. That was his 25th postseason homer, which extends his own record. In the 8th, Casey Blake singled up the middle to score Blake DeWitt, who tripled off of Jeff Samardzija to lead off. Finally, Martin hit a solo shot in the 9th to round out the scoring.

The Dodgers didn't miss a beat tonight, and it was their most dominant postseason outing since Orel Hershiser won Game 5 of the 1988 World Series. That's kind of hard to believe it's been that long, but it has. Jose Lima's gem in the 2004 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals was fantastic, but the way the Dodgers hit tonight, this was better.

Lots of heroes to go around, but let's start with Lowe. He finished at 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. His lone blemish was the homer from DeRosa, and other than that, he was dealing all night. Cory Wade pitched a scoreless 7th, followed by Jonathan Broxton shutting down the 8th. Greg Maddux of all people finished out the game in the 9th, only allowing 1 hit. That was a weird sight seeing him come in, but it worked.

Loney's granny, the 3rd in Dodgers postseason history, could be a hit we're talking about for a long time. Up until then, it looked like the Dodgers of old that would threaten, but never follow through with that big hit. Not tonight! Manny and DeWitt each had 2 hits, Martin reached twice, and Raffy drew 2 walks.

With 1 game in their favor, it's time to get greedy. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, it's still great to at least get 1 in Chicago. But with Chad Billingsley taking the mound, they can definitely get another one before heading home. Can you imagine if they go up 2-0? Man, I can't even comprehend that right now! But it's absolutely within reach.

I wouldn't expect any lineup changes tomorrow. Raffy didn't get a hit, but got on base and is still a threat, so he'll be in there again. Carlos Zambrano recently threw a no-hitter, then has looked like crap. Is he out of gas? Let's hope so!

I can't wait for Thursday night's game. Bring on the Cubs!!!

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