Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dodgers fall apart late as Yankees get one back

The pitching duel between old teammates Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda lived up to all the hype, as the Dodgers and Yankees found themselves scoreless heading into the ninth.  Like the night before, the game would come down to a battle of the bullpens.

Well, when you take a look at the box score and see the name "Mariano Rivera" as one of the Yankees' pitchers, I think we both know who was in a position to win.

The Dodgers fell victim to a missed call on a check swing by Lyle Overbay, which led to a game-winning RBI single off of Paco Rodriguez.  Then Mark Ellis, the hero from the night before, committed a horrible two-run error on a dropped pop-up, and the Yankees cruised to a win, 3-0.  Each team split all four games this season.

Simply put, Kershaw and Kuroda were just awesome, as neither was willing to give an inch.  Each team had chances here and there in the early part of the game, but once they got settled in, forget about it.  They were practically untouchable, combining for 15 shutout innings with 13 strikeouts.

The Yankees put two on in the second on singles by Vernon Wells and Brent Lillibridge, but they were both stranded.  Andre Ethier singled in the bottom half, but was erased on a double play ball from A.J. Ellis.

There wasn't a whole lot going on in the middle part of the game, but the Dodgers wasted a golden opportunity to score in the seventh.  Adrian Gonzalez singled leading off on a ball past first baseman Lillibridge.  I guess Gonzo thought it was a surefire double, because he rounded first and was thrown out by Wells in right by about five steps.  It was a very uncharacteristic mistake by Gonzalez, who runs like a piano is on his back.

With two outs, Ethier and Ellis both singled, but Skip Schumaker struck out to end the inning.  That's right - three hits, no runs.  Ugh.

Kershaw stayed on to pitch the eighth and gave up a couple of innocent singles to Chris Stewart and Melky Mesa, then got Brett Gardner to fly to left to end the threat.  Boone Logan allowed a couple baserunners in the bottom of the frame, but again the Yankees got the big out when Gonzalez flew out to end the threat.

That brought the scoreless game to the ninth, where the Dodgers completely came undone.  Ronald Belisario started it all by walking Derek Jeter, but did get the next two hitters to ground into forceouts at second.  Ichiro pinch-hit and was intentionally walked.

Belisario gave way to Rodriguez to pitch to the lefty Overbay.  With two strikes, Overbay apparently checked his swing, although replays clearly showed he didn't.  And wouldn't you know, Overbay hit an RBI single up the middle to make it 1-0.  That was only the beginning, as Ellis ranged into right field on a pop-up from Jayson Nix, yet dropped it with Yasiel Puig breathing down his neck, allowing two runs to score.

It's no surprise that Rivera completely dominated the Dodgers for his 34th save.  With three runs to play with, there's no way in the world he was going to blow it.  Then again, the score could've been .001-0 and Rivera still would've gotten the save.  Newsflash - he's automatic.

I think at this point we're so used to seeing the Dodgers play the right way, it was almost shocking to see them make the mistakes they did, from Gonzalez's horrendous baserunning gaffe to Ellis dropping a fly ball.  Then again, if third base umpire Bill Miller rang up Overbay on the check swing, this all wouldn't have happened.  But he didn't, Don Mattingly got ejected in between innings, and the Yankees made all the plays to win.

Even in the loss, this was a fun two-game series.  The crowd was packed like a playoff game, and there was definitely an energy to them.  The Yankees only come to Dodger Stadium once every few years, so it was good to see guys like Jeter and Rivera for probably the last time.  At least the Dodgers got a split.

There's no rest for the leaders in the NL West as they travel to play the Cubs in historic Wrigley Field for four starting Thursday.  Ricky Nolasco gets the call.

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