Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dodgers Unable to Run Themselves Out of Win in San Francisco

This was the type of game that you usually lose.  The way things have been going lately, I was certain that the Dodgers would find a way to let this one slip away.  It was as if they weren’t trying to.  

Hanley Ramirez following his 9th inning RBI double (photo capture/Fox Sports)

After 18 innings of frustrating baseball in which the core of the Dodger lineup was unable to get any key hits with runners in scoring position, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez chalked up a back to back triple and double in the 9th inning of a 2-2 game today.  What resulted was a 3-2 Dodger lead and then a comedy of Dodger errors on the base paths.

As the next hitter, Andre Ethier, took ball four, Ramirez inexplicably attempted to steal third base with none out.  He was out from here to...well, from here to San Francisco. A pitch or two later Ethier was thrown out as he attempted to steal second on what was most likely a missed hit and run sign by Luis Cruz.  Instead of men on first and second with none out, the Dodgers had no one on base and two outs.  If there was a rule that allowed them to take a run of the scoreboard that inning, I’m quite sure the Dodgers would have done so.
Luis Cruz fails to catch 1st inning line drive that results in the first run of the game.  (photo capture/Fox Sports)

So the blue crew entered the bottom of the ninth with a trim one run lead and out trotted Brandon League for the second night in a row, but this time to close it out.  League was lights out the night before and it appeared that he’d breeze through this outing as he retired the first two hitters with some nasty sinkers resulting in ground outs.  But easy is not a word in the Dodgers vocabulary these days and an overmatched Trevor Blanco managed to get a 2-strike fastball up in the zone.  He lifted a fly ball that carried to the left field warning track. Dodger rookie Alex Castellanos battled the sun and the San Francisco elements and dropped the ball just as he collided with the wall.

When the dust had settled, Blanco was at second base, Castellanos was nursing a sore shoulder and Dodger fans were bracing themselves for another heartbreaking loss as the comeback Giants appeared on the verge of doing what they have done so well lately, scoring runs while runners are in scoring position.

Bruce Bochy called on Hector Sanchez to pinch hit and he promptly blistered a scorching line drive down third base way.  Earlier in the game on two occasions, Luis Cruz had failed to come up with line drives hit in his vicinity, the first resulting in a 1st inning run by the Giants.  This one he caught though.  At least I’m pretty sure he caught it, because I was peeking through the hand that was covering my face as I couldn’t bare to watch another heart breaker.

The Dodgers won.  They’re 4 1/2 out in the west and have Clayton Kershaw going against Barry Zito tomorrow evening on national television.  The stars are aligned in their favor, or at least the pitching matchup is.  A win tomorrow keeps their narrow chances at coming back and winning the NL West alive.
A.J. Ellis covers third base and is about to apply the tag on Trevor Blanco in the 5th.  An amazing heads up play by the Dodger catcher, the end result of a 5-3-2 double play. (photo capture/Fox Sports)

Matt Kemp Status
An MRI on Matt Kemp’s shoulder showed no major damage.  Just inflammation and a frayed labrum.  A “frayed labrum” doesn’t sound too good to me but the Dodger medical staff is reporting that they hope he can return to action by Tuesday’s game in Arizona.  So maybe he’ll be fine.

Kemp is a gutty player and he’ll play until they tie him down and force him to sit.  It looks like he admitted that he wasn’t quite right.  You got to love his competitiveness and grit, but he’s got to be honest with the club and sit if he can’t get things done.  Hopefully resting a few days and healing will result in another offensive run in which Kemp is able to carry this team one more time.


Speaking Wild Card

Atlanta is playing very well of late.  Today’s win gives them a better record than the Giants at 80-60 as they are in the driver’s seat for the first wild card spot though I’m sure the Braves haven’t given up hope on battling Washington for the NL East title, (they are behind the Nats by 6 1/2 games).

So what it comes down to is the second wild card spot.  Entering today’s action the Cardinals were 1 1/2 games ahead of both the Dodgers and Pirates.

Pittsburgh lost again to the hapless Cubs as Jeff Samardzija pitched a complete game, beating them 4-3 at PNC Park.  The Pirates have fallen a full game behind the Dodgers, though they are even in the loss column.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost at home to the Brewers again 6-3, and are 1/2 game ahead of the Dodgers.  The Cards are struggling and if the Dodgers are able to mount a respectable winning streak over the next three road games, they should be in good shape as they return home for four face to face matches with St. Louis.

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