In what I believe was one of the oddest pitching performances I have ever seen, Aaron Harang chalked up strikeouts like a squirrel collects nuts in the Dodgers 9-8 victory over the Padres tonight. It was insane because for a time there, it appeared that Harang was hardly dominating and possibly wasn’t even going to go the required 5 innings for the decision.
|Harang was dealing tonight (photo by Mark J. Terrell, Associated Press)|
Handed a 4-0 lead after three innings. Harang, who had already struck out the side three times, almost didn’t survive the fourth, surrendering three runs and looking hardly dominating as he eventually retired the side. But the resilient Dodgers kept putting runs on the board, with timely hits by Justin Sellers, AJ Ellis, Tony Gwynn Jr. and then capped off by a two run bomb into the right field pavilion by Matt Kemp.
|Matt Kemp hits a two-run homer (photo by Mark J. Terrell, Associated Press)|
With some room to breath, Harang was able to settle down and start throwing strikes again. By the end of the 6th inning, he had already tied his personal game high in strikeouts, with 13, but the Ks were taking their toll. The Padres weren’t threatening, but by the time he walked John Baker with one out in the top of the sixth, Aaron had already thrown 109 pitches. In came Todd Coffey to provide “relief,” and the Padres immediately banged out two hits, cashing in on the Harang walk. The result was that Harang didn’t even qualify for a quality start, allowing four earned runs over his 6 1/3 innings of work.
Regardless, it was still an amazing feat for the Dodger starter, who broke Johnny Podres’ 50 year old record of consecutive strikeouts when he struck out Cameron Maybin in the bottom of the third for his ninth consecutive “K.” Unfortunately for Harang, the Dodger bullpen could not hold the lead for the hard throwing right hander, depriving him of his first win as a Dodger.
Middle relief continues to be a concern for the Dodgers, specifically Coffey and Elbert.
Following Harang’s departure, Coffey failed to record an out (yielding two hits and hitting a batter). Elbert again couldn’t consistently hit the strike zone as he walked in a run immediately before giving up a sacrifice fly and striking out Yonder Alonso to finish the inning.
Though Coffey’s performance this far is distressing, Elbert was able to successfully record two straight outs tonight, as Mattingly allowed him to return to the mound in the 8th, but he promptly raised concerns again by surrendering a double to Jeremy Hermida. Josh Lindblom, who may soon be outrighted to AAA Albuquerque, came in and immediately retired the side in another brilliant performance.
With Javy Guerra unavailable tonight, Kenley Jansen was on the verge of striking out the side to record the save in the top of the ninth when disaster struck. Leaving a 91 MPH fastball up, Padre third baseman Chase Headley blasted a two run homer deep into the right field seats to tie the game. Jansen's velocity was down again, raising concerns to this Dodger fan.
|Honeycutt talks things over with Kenley Jansen after he surrendered the lead. (photo by Getty Images)|
So of course, the drama reached heightened proportions in the bottom of the ninth. Padre pitcher Andrew Cashner retired the first two Dodger batters before consecutively walking Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp and James Loney. Stepping up to the plate was Captain Walk-Off himself, Andre Ethier, to face lefty reliever Joe Thatcher. In what turned out to be as uneventful walk-off win as I can remember, Ethier stood in the box and took four straight balls for a Walk-off , Walk-off. Crazy, crazy game.
|Juan Uribe and Clayton Kershaw celebrate and Mark Ellis scores the winning run. (Getty Images)|
We’re 7-1. We’ll take it.
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