On May 20, 2011, the Dodgers played the first game of a three game interleague series in Chicago against the White Sox. Most of the game was played with a layer of heavy dense fog covering the field, causing us to dub the game as “the fog game.” The majority of the game was much of the same as we had seen from the first half of the 2011 season from the Dodgers. There was little offense and a weak outing from starting pitcher Ted Lilly. As the Dodgers played nearly the entire game shrouded in fog, the Dodgers preformed like they were stuck in one.
That is until two outs in the 9th inning, when Russ Mitchell’s hail Mary home run tied the game. The Dodgers then rallied to take the lead in extra innings while holding off a last minute rally from the White Sox, thus capping a miraculous come from behind victory as the fog cleared.
Opposing pitcher Phil Humber pitched well, but gave up an early lead. In the top of the first, Jamey Carroll doubles, and Matt Kemp crushes a two run home run into the Chicago Bleachers, giving the Boys in Blue a 2-0 lead. After a 123 first inning, Lilly starts to unravel in the bottom of the second, as our short lived lead is washed away with two outs. First Rios doubles, and Ramon Castro’s RBI ground rule double makes it 2-1. Second baseman Gordon Beckham blasts a monster two run home run, putting the White Sox up 3-2. We grew quite accustomed to watching opposing players go deep off of Lilly. After Morel and Pierre both single, Lilly whiffs Ramirez to end the inning.
Once again the Dodger’s feeble offense could do nothing throughout the entire game, and the score remained 3-2 into the 8th inning. Both starting pitchers eventually settled down. Humber came out still with the lead after pitching 7 effective innings, allowing two runs on five hits, walking one, and whiffing four. While opposing pitcher Ted Lilly nearly matched Humber, but the home run killed him. He lasted 7 innings, allowing three runs, off seven hits, walking none, and whiffing five batters.
The Dodgers wasted another bases loaded opportunity like they would do in many games early on in the 2011 season. In the top of the 8th, Jerry Sands draws a walk off of Thorton, who is in the game to relieve Humber. Carroll’s ground rule double advances Sands to third, and it looks like the Dodgers might actually break through. Ethier whiffs for the first out. Bison is intentionally walked, and Crain is called in from the Chicago Bullpen. Manager Don Mattingly had earlier pulled Uribe out of the game because he injured his hip. Number 1 all time L.A. Dodger Bum Juan Castro was allowed to bat with the bases loaded. Castro predictably whiffs (Castro would actually knock in the go-ahead runs in extra innings, I’ll get to that later). Loney grounds out to end the 8th inning, and the Dodgers again waste a bases loaded situation.
Move to the top of the 9th. Chicago brings in their closer Sergio Santos, who begins the inning by whiffing Dioner Navarro. One out later the Dodgers are down to their last out. We get ready for the inevitable loss, as we prepare to turn of our televisions in disgust. Then a miracle occurs. Our normal channel is changed to a rarely seen magical channel. Bench man Russ Mitchell, who was only on the roster because of injuries to the starting infield, smashes a hail mary two out ninth inning solo home run into the fog, that somehow lands fair, just inside the left field foul pole. The game is tied! The Dodgers still have life. Somehow the fog clears, and the momentum changed.
The drama would unfold into extra innings. With the game tied at 3-3, the top of the tenth was almost surreal. We would see the Dodgers rally for three runs to take the lead. Carroll leads off with a single, his fourth hit of the evening. Kemp singles. Then I can’t believe I’m writing this….Juan Castro who is still playing third base for the injured Juan Uribe, knocks in a run with an RBI chopper that inexplicably bounces over the head of the draw in Chicago infield, somehow rolling down the right field line untouched. Carroll scores, giving the Dodgers the lead for the first time since the second inning 4-3. (I know I know guys, Juan Castro knocked in the go-ahead run, I’m going to have to eat some crow on this one).
Loney’s double scores Kemp to extend the Dodgers lead to 5-3! Then for some reason we’re still not clear on, the Pale hose choose to intentionally walk Dioner Navarro to load the bases. Ironically former Dodger Will Ohman is called in to pitch to outfielder Jay Gibbons. Jay who apparently had no trouble seeing with his contact lenses in the fog, singles in another run, making it a 6-3 Dodger lead.
9th inning hero Russ Mitchell grounds into a double play to end the rally. We hope that the bottom of the 10th inning will end quietly, but alas, nothing comes easy. Matt Guerrier is brought into to pitch the bottom of the 10th. 100-year old Omar Vizquel leads off with a single. Another former Dodger Juan Pierre also singles. There’s a Honeycutt visit to the mound, and we all sense a possible meltdown. Alexi Ramirez hits a one hop smash to third base. Russ Mitchell felt like just hitting the game tying homer wasn’t quite enough, he also wanted to make the game saving defensive play as well. Mitchell makes the play with a full glove extended dive. He gets up and throws out Ramirez, saving two runs from scoring. Mattingly brings a hook for Guerrier and calls in Mike Scott Elbert to get out Adam Dunn, also known as the ogre. The lefty versus lefty matchup works. Dunn grounds out, which allows Vizquel to score, and the score is 6-4 Dodgers, but there is two outs. Mattingly goes to the bullpen one last time, calling in Mike MacDougal (Dougie) to get the final out of the game, earning his first save. Yet another former Dodger Paul Konerko grounds out ending the game.
It was almost surreal as the Dodgers rally to tie, then take the lead while holding off a last minute rally as the White Sox threw a number of former Dodgers at us. Russ Mitchell was the hero with his hail Mary game-tying home run and game saving play in extra innings. Carroll had four hits on the night, Kenley Jansen earned his first win of the year, and we also had a Bison blast for good measure. This was only the Dodgers second win ever at U.S. Cellular Field. Truly one of the more memorable games of the 2011 season.
Dodgers 6 12 0
White Sox 4 10 0
*Final in 10
LP- Santos (2-1)
S- MacDougal (1)
HR- Kemp (10), Beckham (4), Mitchell (1)