Dodgers Lineup vs. GiantsM.Ellis 4 Ethier 9 Kemp 8 Ramirez 5 Hairston 7 Rivera 3 Cruz 6 Ellis 2 Billingsley 1
Momentum is a funny thing in Baseball, but can be very important. The Dodgers had no momentum going into last night’s opening game of a three game series against the hated Giants at San Francisco. What made the series even more important was the mere three games separating the two teams in the standings. The Dodgers are trailing San Francisco. The Dodgers after starting the road-trip hot, lost three out of four in St.Louis, and three in a row coming in. The Boys in Blue were 4-3 on this ten game trip that is supposed to be a make or break trip that leads up to the trade deadline on July 31.
There has been a lot going on of late. Trade rumors are swirling. Adam Kennedy, and Scott Elbert have been placed on the DL. Oh, by the way, Elbert’s MRI results came back clean, and Elbert’s Elbow has no structural damage, and it’s some kind of old injury from him having bone chips removed. Elbert is expected to be back in two weeks. Three days ago, the Dodgers shook the Baseball world by trading number five starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, and a minor league pitcher to the Miami Marlins for former batting champ, infielder Hanley Ramirez, and lefty reliever Randy Choate. Hanley has been dynamite since joining the Dodgers, providing a dynamic power bat in the middle of the lineup, injecting the Dodger’s lineup with some much needed pop. His home run last night won the game for the Blue. In just three games, Hanley is 4 for 11 with a triple, a home run, and three RBI.
I have noticed a lot of visceral, and bitterness directed at Hanley for no reason. I think he is just misunderstood. Obviously Ramirez is a naturally gifted and talented Baseball player. I have a relative of the family (step-relative) who is a big Marlins fan and lives near Miami. He is involved in the Marlin’s booster club, and he did not have kind words to say about Hanley. He called him a clubhouse cancer, saying all he does is frown, and fight with teammates. That is what I read about him. His teammates were quoted by saying similar vague accusations about Ramirez’s character. Things like “he blares his music in the clubhouse, or he frowns, and doesn’t get along with others” Maybe the problem isn’t him, maybe it’s other people? I do know this, I don’t think I have seen him once where he is not smiling. Every time I see Ramirez playing, he has a huge smile on his face. He has told the media that he is happy to be here and to be a Dodger. Offering to play wherever Mattingly tells him to play. Now does this sound like a “team cancer” to you? Now even if it all is true. Let’s just say for argument’s sake, Ramirez punched a cooling fan, frowns, fights, blah blah. Ok, well I could care less what he did with Miami. That is all in the past, and I am willing to give anybody at least one chance, heck I would give him two chances. Hey, I mean I gave Juan Uribe a chance, and man he sucks balls. He really should be packing, and making plane reservations , but back to topic. Ramirez is an amazingly talented athlete, and a franchise players to build around. He brings the Dodgers just what they needed. Of course it wasn’t just him that won the game for the Blue, it was a true team effort, during last night’s 5-3 Dodger’s win in 10 innings.
The Dodgers gave rookie Stephen Fife, another seemingly impossible task, out-duel Matt Cain. I guess they figured since he out-dueled Roy Halladay last time, Cain should be no problem right? Well, Fife pitched 6.1 innings of one run ball, and came out with the lead. The Dodgers scored two runs in the fifth, started by Fife himself on an opposite field leg double. Hairston took Cain the other way too, with an opposite field RBI double into the right field corner. Mark Ellis singled in a run, and even James Loney singled in a run. The Giants didn’t tie it up until the bottom of the eighth inning off of a two-run broken bat single from Brandon Belt, off of Ronald Belisario.
All of the Giants fans were griping and whining about the ball four call to Ethier, which extended the inning allowing Hanley Ramirez to come to the plate, and he hit the home run that won the game. With two outs and the bases empty, Ethier took a 3-2 pitch, high and inside. It was close, but called ball four. After watching the replay I could see that Giant’s catcher Buster Posey, framed the pitch. A technique all catchers use to try and fool the umpire, bringing the pitch back into the strike zone. Umpire Ed Hickox was not fooled. The pitch was close, but in no way was it right down the middle, or an obvious strike. Everyone was complaining about Hickox’s strange strike zone, but this was the correct call. Giant’s fans were also bitching about Hanley’s home run trot around the bases, because he raised his hands to his face and made a goggle, or glasses sign. Big whoop, deal with it Giant fans. In case you are wondering, and so was I since I had never seen that before. Hanley was gesturing too Matt Kemp and the Dodger dugout with an inside clubhouse joke called, “I see you, you see me”. The only way I can explain this is it is like the spotlight that some players do when they get a hit. It has nothing to do with the Giants, or mocking them in any way. Other teams are so jealous and bitter because we have Hanley Ramirez now. Remember it is a crucial series in an important game in a pennant race between two bitter rivals. Emotions are going to run high, and I am not even going to mention the rowdy Giant fans that got kicked out for talking smack to Dee Gordon behind the Dodger dugout, and Gordon isn’t even playing! I can tell you this, I bet you if the situation was reversed, and it was Cabrera, or Posey, or good lord help us Pablo Sandoval hitting a go-ahead two-run shot in the tenth frame, they would probably do some gay little dance, and rub it in our faces, and all the stupid looking “Milk Maids” would have a cow. Giant fans can dish it up. But they can’t take it.
Anyways that two-run blast from Ramirez off of Sergio Romo cemented his place as a Dodger, and our new darling of the diamond. Kenley Jansen came into to close shop, and despite serving up hits to Caberera, and Posey, he retired the next three Giant hitters, and the Dodgers won. The Dodgers also made several great defensive plays throughout the game. Kemp made a great running over the shoulder catch on the track on a long drive hit by Nate Schierholtz. Hanley himself made a great play on an errant throw from Fife, to try and cut down the lead runner third on a sacrifice bunt. Ramirez again showed his athleticism, by keeping his foot on the bag for an important out.
Today the Dodgers have some momentum, in their favor, and they are hoping that a resurgent Chad Billingsley will return to form, to help them secure a series win. Bills had lost five decisions in a row, before going on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching arm. Once he returned, he pitched a solid game against the Cardinals, going six frames, holding the Cards to just one run on 100 pitches, and getting the win. Bills is 5-9 with a 4.15 ERA on the season, and is 7-6 with a 3.33 ERA, and 114 whiffs against San Francisco.
The thing is, the Giants are hitting .307 (55 for 179) against Billingsley. Melky Cabrera is only 2 for 9, but the two guys to watch out for are, Buster Posey, .478 (11 for 23) off of Bills, and Ryan Theriot, yes Tootblan himself is batting .346 (9 for 26), off of Bills. Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval have hit home runs, but remember Sandoval is still out with a strained hamstring.
The Giants will counter with lefty Barry Zito. The crafty veteran is 8-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 19 starts this year. In his last start, he beat Philadelphia with a quality start, going seven frames, and allowing three runs. Over his last five starts, Zito has an ERA of 2.25. Zito is an old and familiar foe for the Dodgers. They have seen him a lot. Zito is 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA against the Dodgers, 104 whiffs. The Dodgers have beat Zito before but are only hitting a collective .239 (65 for 272) off of hiM. Ramirez is only 2 for 18, off of Zito. The main mashers against old man Zito are of course Matt Kemp, batting .449 (22 for 49), with one double, one triple, two home runs, and seven RBI. Jerry Hairston is hitting .360 (9for 25) with a home run and three doubles. The Dodgers have hit four home runs off Zito, the two from Kemp, one from Hairston, and one from Juan Rivera.
Let’s hope Matt Kemp can snap out of his little funk he has been in. he has gone 0 for 5 in back to back games now. Don’t worry though, Bison will start hitting again. If that wasn’t enough drama for you, how about this. In mid game, the Giants traded a minor leaguer to Colorado for infielder Marco Scutaro. I have no idea if he will be in the lineup today, but we will find out soon. Remember the last time the Dodgers were in San Francisco they were swept, and did not score a run the entire series. Last night was a sweet victory, and very important for momentum. Watching the joy drain from the faces of 45,000 Giant fans was pure unfiltered joy.
Today’s game was supposed to be a night game, but was switched to a 1:05PM start, and will be televised on Fox. Last night was the momentum swinger, sparked by our new Hanleywood swinger. Oh wait there is that word again….Momentum, in Baseball it’s everything. The Dodgers and Giants will do battle again in round two. Come back here once the game is over for our detailed Dodger game recap. Beat the Bay! Go Blue!
Topics: A.J. Ellis, Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu, Chad Billingsley, Dee Gordon, Dodgers, Don Mattingly, Hanley Ramirez, James Loney, Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Rivera, Kenley Jansen, Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp, Tony Gwynn Jr.