Sunday, August 29, 2010

Manny's swan song ends with an ejection

Manny Ramirez was only with the Dodgers a little over two years, but he sure knew how to create highlight moments.

The last one he made in Dodger blue came on Sunday. Pinch-hitting with the bases loaded in Coors Field, Manny was ejected for arguing after only one pitch. The new hitter Reed Johnson then grounded into an inning ending double play. The Rockies went on to beat the Dodgers, 10-5.

And with that, the Dodgers not only lost their slim hopes for a playoff spot, but also lost Manny for good. The White Sox will be awarded a waiver claim for him on Monday. That means they'll assume the remaining $4.3 million of his salary for this season.

As for the game itself, the Rockies started the scoring in the second. Todd Helton doubled leading off. One out later, Chris Iannetta hit an RBI double off of Ted Lilly to make it 1-0. A solo homer by Carlos Gonzalez an inning later bumped it to 2-0.

A microcosm for the Dodgers' afternoon (or should I say season?) came in the fourth. Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot singled leading off to put men on the corners. Manny wasn't starting again, so the "power" of Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and James Loney came up.

Here's how they did: Ethier popped up, Kemp struck out, and Loney grounded out. No sac-fly, not RBI groundout, nothing. That's why the Dodgers will be on the outside looking in during the playoffs.

That blown opportunity just led to a barrage of runs for the Rockies in the bottom of the fourth. Five runs scored on a single by Jason Hammel, a two-run triple by Dexter Fowler, and another homer by Gonzalez. It was 7-0 just like that.

Jay Gibbons finally got the Dodgers on the board in the fifth with a pinch-hit RBI single. Once again the Dodgers had big chances to plate some runners. Once again, they didn't. Ethier found himself up with the bases loaded and struck out. This is not a day he'd like to remember, as he was an awful 0-for-5 with eight men left on base. Ouch.

Both teams traded runs in the sixth. The Rockies got another homer, this time from Ryan Spilborghs to go up 8-1. Kemp doubled leading off and came home on Loney's RBI double, making it 8-2. This was also the inning where Manny got tossed, ending his L.A. career. So, you guessed it, the Dodgers again failed to deliver with runners on.

The eighth got pretty interesting in that the Dodgers looked like they may make it a close game. Ronnie Belliard pinch-hit and hit an RBI single for the first run. Podsednik loaded the bases with a single, and Theriot drove in two with another single, putting the score at 8-5.

There was still only one out with two men on for the heart of the order. Ethier again struck out. Kemp reached on an infield single to load the bases. In sticking with the theme of the day, Loney grounded out just to make sure the Dodgers couldn't possibly get another big hit.

The Rockies added two more on a Fowler triple and Gonzalez sac-fly. Huston Street mowed through the Dodgers in order to end the game.

In looking at the hit column, it reveals that both teams had 13 apiece. Then you look deeper to see what kind of production each team got in those hits. The Dodgers had four extra-base hits, the Rockies had eight. The Dodgers had one two-out RBI, the Rockies had six. The Dodgers left 12 men on, the Rockies left seven. You get the point by now.

Lilly suffered by far his worst outing as a Dodger, as he took his first loss after five straight wins. He went four innings for nine hits, seven runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts. It's pretty surprising he had that many strikeouts considering he was hit all over the place. Could he be the next to go? He was placed on waivers, so we shall see.

At this point, the Dodgers find themselves in a position to try some new things. Being 6 1/2 games in back of the Wild Card isn't insurmountable, but there's four other teams in front of them that look a whole lot better. I guess it just wasn't meant to be this year.

When the rosters get expanded on September 1, the Dodgers don't have to be as afraid to let guys like Chin-lung Hu and Ivan DeJesus play. I'm not saying bench all the veterans, but they might as well let the youth show what they've got.

In the meantime, the Dodgers will welcome the Phillies to Dodger Stadium for three starting Monday. The Phillies just got a four-game sweep over the Padres. Oh joy. Hiroki Kuroda goes in the first game against the great Roy Halladay.

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