Thursday, August 15, 2013

Andre the Giant, Gonzo, Puigmania... and the Dodgers win again

Just when the Mets thought they finally held the Dodgers down, think again.

A single that turned into a double from Yasiel Puig in the 12th led to a walk-off double from Adrian Gonzalez, and the Dodgers once again came out of nowhere to win their eighth straight, 5-4.  None of this would have been possible had Andre Ethier not pinch-hit in the ninth and homered off of LaTroy Hawkins.

If you're surprised by any of this, don't be.  When you're in the middle of a 40-8 run, every game is full of big moments, and this was just the latest example.

The Dodgers swept the three-game series, but what's interesting is that the Mets actually had the early lead every game.  In the second, Marlon Byrd and Justin Turner opened the inning with single.  With one out, Andrew Brown hit an RBI double, and it was 1-0.

The inning could have been worse, but Puig added to his personal highlight reel with an absolute laser to nail Byrd trying to get to third on Turner's single.  Just watch the replay if you haven't seen it, because it was incredible even for Puig.

The third inning wasn't any better for Chris Capuano, who could not get into a groove all night.  Singles by Daniel Murphy and Josh Satin led the way for a big three-run shot from Byrd on a 3-0 count, and the Mets were in full control at 4-0.

Well, maybe "full" control isn't the right way of putting it, because with the way the Dodgers are playing, the other team is never really in that much control.  The Dodgers didn't do themselves any favors, however, when they managed to hit four singles in the fourth, yet didn't score.  Carl Crawford was picked off of first on a bad call, and Mark Ellis flew out with the bases loaded for the last out.

Thankfully Capuano was out of there after five innings, and the bullpen put the clamps on the rest of the way.  In the sixth, the bases became loaded again on a single by Gonzalez, a double by the returning Hanley Ramirez, and Skip Schumaker getting beaned.  Ellis just beat out a double play to score one on a fielder's choice.  An RBI single by Jerry Hairston made it 4-2.

That's the way the score would remain until the ninth, when the Dodgers created some more magic.  Hawkins had been flawless in his three save opportunities since taking over for the injured Bobby Parnell, but Ellis greeted him with a single.  Hairston then hit a hard grounder off of Hawkins's "midsection" (you figure it out) as he made the play to first.

Perhaps Hawkins never really got his wind back, because the very next batter was when Ethier pinch-hit for Tim Federowicz and hit a two-run homer to left center.  Coming into the game, Ethier again had to sit out with a sore left calf and only had seven homers.  No matter, as he flashed back to his "Andre the Giant" walk-off days.  It was awesome.

Still tied in the 12th, Puig got his first hit of the night by grounding one up the middle that turned into a double.  Gonzo's opposite field double down the left field line ended it.

Wow, that was just the latest chapter in what's turning out to be an amazing year for the Dodgers.  They didn't get a good start from Capuano, didn't score until the sixth, yet still managed to win.  I would by lying if I didn't point out how the Mets helped make this possible, as they obviously have a long way to go before they start competing for the playoffs again.  Blowing early leads in all three games has got to make them sick to their stomachs.

Who are the unsung heroes of this game?  Chris Withrow, Brandon League, J.P. Howell, Carlos Marmol, and Paco Rodriguez.  All five of these guys teamed up to pitch the final seven innings without allowing a run.  Withrow and Marmol both went two innings and allowed only one runner, while striking out three.  It was especially great timing by Marmol, who's gone scoreless his last six trips to the mound, as Brian Wilson is lurking.

Here are some more stats coming out of this game: 40 of the last 48, 23-3 since the All-Star break, and a franchise record 12 straight one-run wins.  Amazing.  There's just no stopping this team.

The homestand is over with a perfect 6-0 mark, and now the Dodgers hit the road for the Phillies starting on Friday.  What made the Mets sweep even sweeter was that they didn't have to use Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw to get it done.  Both men will start, respectively, in this next three-game set.  Friday's game will be great as the Phillies counter with Cliff Lee.

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