In honor of the sacred 50th anniversary of our Beloved Dodger Stadium, I will be releasing my top ten moments of Dodger Stadium history. Currently the Dodgers are casting a special vote on what the top ten moments of the last 50 years at the Ravine are. These are my top ten however. Please note these are mine, and mine alone. These are the top ten moments according to me, a lifelong fanatical Dodger fan, who has grown up in southern California. There are so many memories it is almost too hard to choose just ten. I will count down each one per day, leading up to the Dodger’s Opening day game April 5th in San Diego. Each one of these moments will make you smile, laugh, and will bring chills down your spine. Some of them may even take your breath away. Without further adieu, I give you the number three moment in Dodger Stadium history…The four consecutive home run game…..
On September 18, 2006, I had a very bad day at work and was looking forward to coming home to watch the Dodger game. Indeed the Dodgers were playing the Padres at home in an important series. The two teams were separated by only a half game, with the Dodgers needing a win to split the four game series and move into sole possession of first place.
That season was much like the game on September 18, a roller-coaster ride of emotions. The Dodgers were in last place at one point in May, then went on a tear in July and August to soar to the top of the division. By September, they were fighting the Padres for first place. Oddly enough, the Padres had several former Dodgers on their roster, and it seemed when one former Dodger left there was another in the wings waiting to beat us.
I was hoping for a nice quick clean shutout to ease my tensions from work. What I watched instead was a back and forth three hours and fifty three minute battle that left me wanting to hang myself one minute and jumping for joy another, and finally a feat so incredible, so unbelievable it left me unable to stand for several minutes.
The feat was so astonishing that it dwarfed a very good game. The Dodgers hit seven home runs and collected 19 hits. Brad Penny started the game for the Dodgers, and the Padres countered with Jake Peavy. Also in the starting lineup, catching and batting cleanup was my childhood Dodger hero Mike Piazza, this time he was playing for the Padres at the end of his career and last year in the National League.
Back in those days, the Dodgers had a very good lineup that cancelled out their mediocre pitching staff. A lineup with Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent complimented a plethora of rookies that rode to the rescue. Rookies like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Chad Billingsley, and Jonathon Broxton. Takashi Saito was the closer, and the Dodgers had picked up outfielder Marlon Anderson mid-season to provide some outfield help. Anderson batted .375 with seven home runs down the stretch for the Dodgers.
As I watched the game from my living room couch, the Padres jumped ahead by scoring four runs in the top of the first inning off of a shell shocked Brad Penny. There was two singles, a double, a triple, and a walk, all with two outs. Adrian Gonzalez singles, and Piazza doubles home Gonzalez for the first run. Russell Branyon walks, Mike Cameron triples both runners home for a 3-0 San Diego lead. Finally Geoff Blum singles in Cameron.
This was not what I was looking for when I came home. I did not want to see the Dodgers go down immediately by four runs. The Dodgers did answer back with a run in the bottom half of the first.
Rafael (Hit Machine) Furcal drops one of his infamous drag bunt singles up the third base line. Kenny Lofton follows with a single of his own, and Jeff Kent doubles in Hit Machine, and it is 4-1 San Diego. Brad Penny bounces back to whiff the side in the top of the second, and the Dodgers would continue to claw away at the Padres dwindling lead. The bottom of the second saw Marlon Anderson homer to cut the lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the third, the Dodgers would score three runs to tie it up. Hit Machine led off with a solo home run to deep center, 4-3 now. Jeff Kent would reach base on a double, and then would come home to score on J.D. Drew ‘s line drive double down the left field line. The game is tied!
Now we are talking right? I was feeling much better. This is was I had been looking forward too all day at work. A nice Dodger comeback win would do just fine to lift my spirits. The game was far from over though. The game would remain tied for the next several innings, however both teams threatened to score but couldn’t capitalize.
The Padres loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning on a single and two walks, but Cameron flys out to end the frame.
In the top of the sixth, Brad Penny is hooked and Brett Tomko enters the game for the Dodgers. He allows a double to Geoff Blum, but whiffs Barfield and Roberts to get out of it.
Joe Beimel gets a double play to end the top of the seventh, and Padres pitcher Alan Embree escapes damage in the bottom of the seventh by retiring Drew and Martin on ground-outs. In the top of the eighth, rookie Jonathon Broxton is called in to pitch. Broxton was just a rookie then, but the meltdown was already in his blood. Cameron lines out to start the inning, but Blum walks. Barfield doubles to right, scoring Blum easily, and he takes third base on the throw home. 5-4 San Diego. Pinch-hitter Todd Walker singles home Barfield, and now its 6-4 San Diego. Former Dodger Dave Roberts whiffs, while Walker steals second basE. Roberts whiffed four times on the night.
There is a wild pitch, but Gile’s deep fly ball is caught at the wall. Phew! Bottom of the eighth now. Scott Linebrink on to pitch for the Padres. He is greeted by a lead-off triple from Marlon Anderson. Then Wilson Betemit immediately singles in Anderson, the lead is back to one run at 6-5.
Lofton does double, but Furcal and Garciappara both whiff to end the inning. In the top of the 9th, Dodgers closer Takashi Saito is brought in to pitch. Adrian Gonzalez leads off with a single to left. After he is sacrificed to second base, Josh Bard doubles off the center field wall, sending Gonzalez to third base. Mike Cameron was intentionally walked to load the bases and hopefully set up some kind of force play or double play. Instead there is a wild pitch, and the runners move up 90 feet. The score is now 7-5. Geoff Blum knocks in a run with a sacrifice fly. Barfield’s line drive single drives home Cameron, and the Padres have jumped out to a 9-5 lead.
Move to the bottom of the ninth inning with the Padres leading by four runs. With a four run lead, the Padres chose not to bring in Trevor Hoffman, and instead began the inning with Jon Adkins. I had already consented to defeat. I was slumped on my couch, already chalking this game up, and repeating in my head that we would fight another day. A loss meant going down a game and a half. Not good, but with a good week and a half left in the season definatly not insurmountable. I had accepted the loss.
The Dodgers had a different idea though. They were not going to give up, and to give you an idea of how amazing this game was, let me preface by saying this….Jon Adkins had only allowed one home run that year in over 50 innings pitched, and Closer Trevor Hoffman had not blown a save to the Dodgers since 2001. With Adkins on the mound, Jeff Kent led off with a home run to center. 9-6 Padres.
Of course that shot made me smile, it was nice, but I knew we were still down by three runs, and with Hoffman warming up, it still looked all but over. The next batter was J.D. Drew, who absolutely crushed a 2-1 pitch halfway up the left field bleachers. Now the score was 9-7 San Diego. Boy was that ball hit, said Vin Scully. I was up now, that blast made me sit up and take notice, but I knew that we still needed two more runs to tie, and uhhh there we go, in came Hoffman.
The Padres made the pitching change bringing in Hoffman to try and close the game. The next hitter was rookie Russell Martin, who hit a long blast to center right field, that just cleared the wall. It’s now 9-8! Three straight home runs! Proclaimed Vinny. It was surly amazing. what a feat I thought. I had never seen that before. Three consecutive home runs, but the Dodgers were still trailing by a run. All that mattered was the scoreboard. Sure it was great, but I was still a bit mad. I was mad for the Dodgers giving me reason to hope, only to let me down with disappointment. I thought isn’t this ironic? A back and forth game that saw the Dodgers come from behind multiple times, and hit three straight home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, only to lose by a run. The thought was awful, and I tried to push it out of my mind, and hope for the best as Marlon Anderson settled into the batter’s box.
Can you believe what happened next? I still can’t believe it nearly six years later. On the first pitch, Marlon Anderson bombed one deep into right field, and way out, for another home run. I was on my feet when the Anderson bomb went out, and I started hooting and hollering.
Tie game! Tie game! Tie game I shouted as I jumped up and down on my couch. My heart filled with instant joy. The troubles and stress of work had melted away. Fighting traffic to race home in time to catch the first inning. I was thrilled. Dodger Baseball does this to me.
Let me explain how amazing this feat was. It had only been done once in Major League history. Only once had a team hit four consecutive home runs in one inning before, and never to tie a game, or take the lead in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“Four consecutive home runs! Believe it or not! And the Dodgers have tied it up!” ` Vin Scully
The next batter Julio Lugo flies out to deep center. Everyone thought for a split second that we were going to see a fifth consecutive home run, but that did not happen. Finally Ethier and Furcal make out, and we go to the top of the tenth inning. I hunker down on my couch for extra innings. The Dodgers HAD to win this game, they just had to!
The Dodgers had basically run out of pitchers, and had to bring in spot starter and long man Aaron Sele, who hadn’t pitched much over the previous couple of weeks. He was rusty and it showed. DavE. Roberts leads off by lining out to center. Brian Giles doubles to left, and Adrian Gonzalez is intentionally walked. McAnulty flies out, and with runners at first and second and two outs, Josh Bard lines a single into right field to score Giles, and the Padres have retaken the lead 10-9.
Cameron walks, but fortunately the inning ends as Sele gets Geoff Blum to fly out. That half inning was gut wrenching. I went from almost unbelievable joy and elation one minute, to wanting to hang myself the next, it was that kind of night. I didn’t move as the game entered the bottom of the tenth. I was too depressed to move. Too shocked. I could not believe the Dodgers were going to lose this game, after all they had been through to battle back and tie it up. Multiple rallies all night, four straight home runs in the bottom of the ninth. How could it end like this?
Thank goodness it did not. The Dodgers were not going to just go down meekly, they were going to fight. They were going to go down swinging. Another former Dodgers came out of the Padres bullpen to try and close it out. This time it was Rudy Seanez. Had we travelled back in time to 1995? I was going to stay until the last out, I was going down with the ship.
I laughed a little, but I still thought it was probably over. Kenny Lofton leads off with a four pitch walk. Then Nomar Garciaparra who had to talk manager Grady Little into letting him play because of a sore quad muscle, blasts a 3-1 pitch into the right field bleachers for a walk-off home run.
“And a high fly ball to deep left field, it is a way out and gone! The Dodgers win it 11-10! Unbelievable! And did I forget to tell you? The Dodgers are in first place!” ` Vin Scully
As Garciappara rounded the bases and scored the winning run, Dodger Stadium went bonkers. We might see another hundred years of Baseball before we see a feat as amazing as that bottom of the ninth inning. Vin Scully said it best the game was indeed unbelievable.