Saturday, August 10, 2013

More Dodger magic in stunning the Rays

If you're a Los Angeles Dodger right now, you have to feel practically invincible.  A dramatic comeback win when the deck was more than stacked against you on Friday night only adds to that feeling.

Despite being down by six runs much of the game, and needing to make up three runs in the ninth off of Fernando Rodney, the Dodgers got one big hit after another, and an error by Rodney brought home the winning run in an absolutely incredible win over the Rays, 7-6.  The Diamondbacks had their own walk-off against the Mets, so the lead in the NL West remains 5 1/2 games.

Wow.  I can't say that enough.  The Dodgers really had no business winning this, and if you just saw the score and knew that David Price was pitching, you probably thought he wasn't any good.  Boy would you be wrong.

Price handcuffed the Dodgers for seven innings, not allowing any earned runs on seven hits and walk, striking out four.  I think it was an accomplishment that they only struck out four times, because Price's stuff is just electric.  It's obvious how he won a Cy Young Award.

Pretty much forgotten in all of this was the horrendous defensive display in the second inning by the Dodgers, who looked like they mentally were still in St. Louis.  Wil Myers singled to left center to start, though it should've been an easy flyout.  Instead, Jerry Hairston and Yasiel Puig looked at each other and neither made a break for the ball.  Nick Punto bobbled a grounder by Ben Zobrist for another error.

Next came two straight run-scoring singles by Yunel Escobar and old friend James Loney, and both times Puig needlessly threw to home despite not having a chance to get anyone, allowing the runner to get to second.  There's a lot of good with Puig, but here's an example of the bad that you have to live with.  All in all, it was 3-0 Rays.

The first real scoring chance for the Dodgers came in the fourth, but they ran into the final out.  With Hairston on first from a fielder's choice, Juan Uribe doubled down the right field line.  Tim Wallach gave Hairston the green light, and he was thrown out by about 13 miles.

Naturally, that led to three more runs from the Rays in the fifth.  The bases were loaded with one out, and Zobrist hit an RBI single to make it 4-0.  Chris Capuano was then chased on a two-run single from Escobar to go up 6-0, and the Rays were in full control.

The best thing the Dodgers could do was get Price out of there after the seventh.  They finally scored a run that inning, with a little help from Evan Longoria's throwing error at third.  That allowed Hairston to stay on second and Uribe at first.  Tim Federowicz grounded into a double play, but an RBI double from Skip Schumaker made it 6-1.

The eighth is when the fun really began, as the Dodgers cut it to 6-3.  Mark Ellis walked leading off, but Jake McGee got the next two outs.  Josh Lueke came in to face Puig, who hit a ground rule double to right to score Ellis.  After a walk to Hairston, Joel Peralta came in to face Uribe, who scored another on a single to right.

There have been many big wins since June, but the ninth inning is one that might stand out the most when the season is all said and done.  Rodney came in looking for his 28th save, and instead left after getting smacked around and committing an embarrassing error.  But hey, the Dodgers will take it.

Schumaker started it all with a single leading off, but Dee Gordon, the final position player left on the bench, struck out.  Ellis lifted a fly ball to left just out of the reach of a diving Zobrist for an RBI triple, making it 6-4.  Punto lined an RBI double to left, and things were looking serious at 6-5.

Adrian Gonzalez hadn't had a hit all night, but he changed that with a game-tying RBI double to right.  Joe Madden wasn't going to mess around with Puig, so he was walked to put men on first and second with one.  The strategy appeared to work as Hairston bounced one back to the mound for a would-be double play.

But then Rodney made what might be one of the worst throws to second in the history of professional baseball.  The ball sailed into center, and even the snail slow Gonzalez easily scored for the win.  It's safe to say Rodney will want to burn the tape of this game.

Again, wow.  The Dodgers made all of the big plays when they needed to, which is something we've all gotten used to seeing, but is so hard to do.  Yes, they got plenty of help on Rodney's errant throw to score that winning run, but at the very least, the game would've gone in extra-innings, so who knows what would have happened.

Capuano ended up being charged with five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, but he was hardly at fault for that.  He got practically no help from the gloves behind him.  The bullpen was fantastic, and I'm not sure anyone noticed.  J.P. Howell (2/3 inning), Brandon League (two innings), Carlos Marmol (one inning - though he sucked), and Ronald Belisario (one inning) combined to pitch the final 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run.  They gave the Dodgers hope, and it paid off in the end.

With the first win under their belts, the Dodgers can't help but feel good about getting a sweep with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw on the mound this weekend.  The Rays are still really good, so old cliche of "one game at a time" will definitely need to be applied here.  But man, with the way the Dodgers are going, it's hard not to think they can win every game.

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