All of the hullaballo today was on Joe Blanton making his debut start this afternoon for the Dodgers. The boys in Blue came into today’s game with a chance to sweep the Cubs at home for the first time since 1998. A win gives the Dodgers the season series over the Cubs 4-2. The game today was exciting and frustrating. The lead changed hands three times. It went back and forth, all game. The Dodgers were trailing thee different times during the game, but would rally back to tie and re-take the lead several times, and then walked-off to win in the bottom of the ninth, in typical scratch and claw style that has defined their season. Hanley Ramirez’s game winning RBI single to left scored Matt Kemp, to give the Dodgers the win.
Before all of that happened, it was a frustratingly boring nail biter. I was wondering all game when the Dodger’s lineup would start to click. It took a while though. (I know I know, I’m impatient, what can I say?) Anyways, the Dodgers could only muster one hit, and one base runner off of opposing starter Justin Germano through the first four innings. The Dodgers would then score in the next three innings.
As for Joe Blanton, he did alright. He pitched six frames, allowing two runs, five hits, one home run, three walks, and five whiffs. He made 103 pitches. According to Eric Stephen, Blanton had only walked three or more batters four other times all year. Maybe he had jitters? However according to Stacie, he had allowed four home runs, in previous starts at Dodger Stadium. He left with a no-decision. Despite blowing the game, Jansen picks up the win. I know, I know, pitcher wins are stupid.
I like Don Mattingly, and I think he is a good manager most of the time, but sometimes he has some blind spots. One is bullpen management, when he over thinks. He should not have taken out Brandon League in the top of the seventh. I don’t care if there were lefties coming up. You don’t have to play the percentages all the time. Especially in a tight game like this that could go to extra innings. Wasting a pitcher in these types of games is never a good idea. They won though, so I won’t get to hard on Donnie.
The Cubs also made a bunch of roster moves. They traded Jeff Baker to the Tigers for a player to be named late. They called up two rookies in corresponding roster moves. One was center fielder Brett Jackson who made his MLB debut in center for the Cubs. The other was Josh Vitters who saw action later in the game as a pinch-hitter.
Anyways, the thing is and this applies to all teams in all sports. Good teams find ways to win close games, and bad teams find a way to lose close games. This is true, and we saw this today. While the Dodgers are 21-18 in one run games, the Cubs are 11-19, and now 2-13 on the road in those one run affairs. Food for thought, guys. Here is how this thriller played out.
Joe Blanton begins the game by walking David DeJesus. Of course the guy that is supposed to never walk guys, walks his first batter. Rookie Brett Jackson hits a slow grounder to first base, that should have been a double play, but Loney is a retard, and again for the second straight game, does NOT get the lead runner. Instead he steps on the first base bag first, before firing to second. Hanley’s tag is app;ied late, and Dejesus is safe at second. So instead of a double play, and nobody on base, it is a ground out to first, and a runners at second with one out. Naturally on cue, Anthony Rizzo singles DeJesus home to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. This is typical as the non Kershaw Bills part of the rotation allow first inning runs in like every game. Anyways, Alfonso Soriano pops out to shallow right field. Mark Ellis makes the catch, but Rizzo was off in no man’s land, and Ellis doubles him up of off first to end the inning. TOOTBLAN.
Of course the Dodgers predictably go down 123 in the bottom of the first off of Justin Germano. Shane Victorino pops out to short. Mark Ellis pops put to second, and Matt Kemp whiffs.
Top of the second. Starlin Castro flies out to right. Wellington Castillo singles. Luis Valbuena walks. Darwin Barney whiffs. Germane grounds out to end the inning. Bottom of the second. Germano retires the Dodgers in order again. Andre Ethier Hanley Ramirez, and James Loney all make outs.
In the top of the third, Blanton gets DeJesus to whiff. Brett Jackson walks. That’s Blanton’ third walk f the game. Rizzo grounds into a force. Soriano also whiffs to end the frame. With one out in the bottom of the third, the Dodgers finally get their first hit an base runner of the game. A.J. Elis singles up the middle Blanton sacrifices Ellis to second. But Victorino flies to center, and the Dodgers don’t score. Shocking I know.
Both pitchers retire the side in order in the fourth innings respectively. With two outs in the top of the fifth, Blanton allows singles to DeJesus, and Brett Jackson. Rizzo flies out though, to end the frame. For the Dodgers in the bottom of the fifth, the offensive frustration finally ends. Hanley grounds out. Loney singles. Cruz flies out to right. A.J. Ellis doubles into the gap in left center field. Rookie center fielder Jackson bumbles the ball, allowing the slow as molasses Loney to score to tie the game at 1-1. Blanton whiffs for the third out.
In the top of the sixth, Wellington Castillo pops his third home run of the year, to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Valbuena grounds out to end the frame. The Dodgers rally back to score three runs and take a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Victorino starts the inning by whiffing. Mark Ellis is plunked in the elbow. Rookie Alberto Cabrera is called in to replaced Germano. He allows two runs on three hits in 5.1 innings, with no walks, and three whiffs. Not bad at all. The rookie Fireballer Cabrera, walks Kemp. Ethier whiffs. Ramirez walks to load the bases. The Cubs bring in lefty Scott Maine to pitch to pinch-hitter Juan Rivera. Rivera draws another walk to force in a run to tie the game at 2-2. Luis Cruz comes up with a huge hit, a single to left that scores Kemp, and Hanley. Dodgers take the lead 4-2! AJ whiffs to end the frame.
Top of the seventh would see the Cubs fight back to score three runs, with help from some bad bullpen management from Don Mattingly. Brandon League is called in and pitches to two batters before being hooked. Barney singles to right. Newly called up rookie Josh Vitters flies out to right. Mattingly hooks League, and brings in lefty Randy Choate with a bunch of left handers coming up in the Chicago lineup. Of course by doing this you waste League, and you better hope that Choate gets his men. He didn’t. DeJesus walks, and Jackson singles to load the bases. There is a coaching visit to the mound. Mattingly hooks Choate and calls in Javy Guerra, who is a righty. Rizzo’s sac fly to left scores Barney and the lead is back to one run at 4-3. Soriano doubles into the gap to score two runs, and the Cubs re-rake the lead 5-4. Castro walks, but Wellington Castillo whiffs to finally end the inning.
Manuel Corpas comes into pitch the bottom of the seventh for the Cubs. Gwynn whiffs on strikes. Victorino flies out, but the Dodgers would rally with two outs again, would you believe it? Mark Ellis walks. Kemp singles him to third. The Cubs call in lefty James Russell to face Ethier. Dre wins this battle with a clutch two-run double, and the Dodgers take the lead back again, 6-5!
Ronald Belisario almost blows the lead in the top of the eighth, but wiggles out of his own jam. The .195 hitting Valbuena walks. Barney reaches on a fielder’s choice. His little grounder back to the box is barehanded by Belisario, but he throws it into center field. Fortunately Kemp is backing up the play, and the runners can’t advance. Then Beli battles back to get three quick outs. Bryan LaHair whiffs. DeJesus flies out, and Jackson whiffs. Phew! In the bottom of the eighth, Cruz singles and steals second, but is left stranded there. Hairston and Victorino both pop out against Shawn Camp.
Top of the ninth. Kenley Jansen on in to close up shop, and would you believe it again? The Cubs would tie it up. Rizzo leads off with a home run into the Cubs bullpen to tie the game at 6-6. Jansen recovers to retire the next three hitters, and we move to the bottom of the ninth.
Camp still on the mound to begin the bottom of the ninth, and he retires Mark Ellis on a grounder. Castro makes a nice play to throw him out by a step. Kemp walks. Ethier singles into right field, to send Kemp to third. Then Hanley Ramirez’s line drive single to left, wins it for the Dodgers! Kemp scores, and the Dodgers sweep the Cubs, winning by a final score of 7-6.
I am so relieved, that was a lot tougher than it should have been, I mean it’s the Cubs for cying out loud. Anyways, good news and bad news on the scoreboard today. The bad news is the Giants won, sweeping the Rockies in Denver. Colorado is just as bad as the Cubs, actually worse. So the Dodgers now, 59-50, keep pace with the Giants and remain a half game back of first place. Arizona lost today in Philly, and drop to four games back.
Speaking of the Rockies they come into town tomorrow for a three game series. Remember Todd Helton and Mullet Man Tulowitzki are both hurt, so we only have to deal with Cargo. Obviously that is not the typical Rockie’s team we are used to seeing. The Dodgers are going through a nice little soft part of their schedule. We need to win all the games we can against these bad teams, before the Dodgers have to go on the road to Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. Won’t that be fin right Dodger fans?
Join is tomorrow as Chris Capuano will take the mound for the Dodgers. Colorado will counter with rookie Drew Pomeranz at 7PM. Check in with us tomorrow for our daily detailed Dodger coverage. Bust out those brooms guys! How sweep it is…..Go Blue.
Topics: A.J. Ellis, Andre Ethier, Brandon League, Dodgers, Don Mattingly, Hanley Ramirez, James Loney, Jerry Hairston Jr., Joe Blanton, Juan Rivera, Kenley Jansen, Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp, Randy Choate, Ronald Belisario, Tony Gwynn Jr.