Just when things seemed at their darkest hour for Dodger fans, when all hope appeared lost, we were saved by an unlikely hero. The Dodgers were collapsing under the pressure. Bison is injured, the rest of the players were dropping like flies because of injuries, and Don Mattingly continued to bunt the world. The Dodgers had lost four in a row, and seven of their last eight games. The Dodgers have been so pathetic with the bats, that the last time the Dodgers scored more than five runs was August 28 in Colorado. They had gone eight games without scoring three runs or more. The Boys in Blue have only been averaging 2.3 runs per game in September, and have hit .185 with runners in scoring position this month. That all changed tonight, as the Dodgers beat the Redbirds 8-5 to even the series, and keep their heads above water.
It seemed like just another typical game in the early going. Chris Capuano allowed four runs through 4.1 innings. The Cardinals had scored two runs in the top of the second on two solo home runs from Yadier Molina, and Matt Carpenter. They then scored two more on another home run, this one a two run blast from Matt Holiday in the top of the third, after Beltran had reached on a Hanley throwing error. This time the Dodgers would rally back, in the usual scratch and claw style that has defined their season, when they have won.
They scored a run in the bottom of the second off of a Gonzalez double, and an RBI ground-out from Luis Cruz. With the Dodgers down 4-3 and after another Mattingly bunt failure ruined a rally in the fifth, things were looking bleak. As we inched closer and closer to the abyss, one man had had enough. There was one man who would not go gently into that good night. There was one heroic man who would fight. Was that man Matt Kemp? No. Was that man Adrian Gonzalez? No. Was that man Hanley Ramirez, or Andre Ethier? No. No. NO….NO! Instead it was our hero Luis Cruz, who crushed a game winning three run bomb into the Dodger bullpen, sending the Dodgers to eventual victory, and the Dodger Stadium crowd into a frenzy! Ethier’s two-run home run that pulled the Dodgers back to one run was huge as well. The Dodgers would add two more runs to put the game away.
While both starting pitchers didn’t make it past the fifth inning, neither were involved in the decision. Shawn Tolleson picks up the win in relief. Trevor Rosenthal, another Cardinal’s rookie pitcher takes the loss. There were five home runs hit in the game. Two were hit by the Dodgers. The Dodgers scored eight runs tonight, off nine hits. Eight!! Eight runs! Ethier, Gonzalez, and Punto!? Each had two hits. But it was Luis Cruz who was the hero.
The Dodgers finally begin a game by getting the first three outs in the top of the first. Yes, that’s right guys, the Dodgers did not allow a run in the first inning. Now the second inning is another story. After Capuano got through the top of the first without problem, Right hander Joe Kelly also gets through the bottom of the first without issue, retiring the Dodgers in order.
The pain begins in the top of the second. The Cardinals put two runs on the board with two monster solo shots. After Allen Craig flies out, Yadier Molina blasts a solo home run over the left field wall. 1-0 Cardinals. David Freese grounds out. With two outs, Cappy serves up his second home run of the inning. This time it is Matt Carpenter jacking one halfway up the left field pavilion seats. Now it is 2-0 Cardinals. Cappy whiffs rookie Pete Kozma to end the frame.
The Dodgers come back with a run in the bottom of the second off of Kelly. Adrian Gonzalez pulls a double into the right field corner. Hanley Ramirez’s grounder advances Gonzo to third. Luis Cruz grounds out to score Gonzalez. 2-1 St. Louis.
The Cardinals score two more in the top of the third. After Cappy gets opposing starter Joe Kelly, and Jon Jay to ground out, Carlos Beltran reaches on a throwing error from Hanely. God only knows where Hanley was trying to throw too. First base is not in the stands. Then, Matt Holiday does it again. He homers to deep right field. The two run blast gives the RedBirds a 4-1 lead.
The Dodgers rally back for two more runs in the bottom of the third. After A.J. Ellis whiffs, and Cappy grounds out, Shane Victorino draws a walk. Andre Ethier, blasts one into the right field pavilions for a two run shot, and the Dodgers climb to within one run. That’s Ethier’s 18th home run of the season, which makes it a 4-3 game. Both pitchers exchange scoreless fourth innings, and we move to the fifth frame.
In the top of the fifth, with one out, Carlos Beltran doubles. Mattingly instantly runs out with a quick hook for Cappy. Matt Guerrier is called in, and surprisingly gets us out of the inning. He gets Holiday and Craig to both ground out.
With the team down by a run in the bottom of the fifth, Don Mattingly again, gives away an out with another bunt failure. Nick Punto reaches on an infield single. Of course he does his usual sliding into first base crap. AJ tries to bunt and pops it up. Molina picks off Punto with a snap throw to first. That does that for that scoring rally. Capuano goes 4.1 innings, allowing four runs, two earned, six hits, no walks, and two whiffs. He comes out before going the required five, and can’t qualify for the win. Shawn Tolleson comes in for a successful 123 top of the sixth inning. He induces David Freese to ground into a double play.
Joe Kelly gets the hook before the bottom of the sixth starts. Mike Matheny brings in rookie Trevor Rosenthal. Ethier singles into center. Matt Kemp lines out to center. Gonzalez fouls out. Hanley is hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Matheny brings a hook, and brings in Edward Mujica. Luis Cruz, our wonderful Cochito, brings us back from the depths of despair with the most clutch three run bomb of the season. The three run bomb sailed into the Dodger bullpen. A majestic blast, for a majestic and heroic ball player. The Dodgers take the lead 6-4!
The Dodgers added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh. Rookie Sam Freeman on the mound. Elian Herrera walks. Victorino a hit and run single through the hole sends Herrera to third. After Etheir whiffs, the Cardinals make another pitching change. In comes heavy set gentleman Victor Marte, who’s gearth rivals Juan Uribe. He whiffs Matt Kemp for the second out. Another pitching change yet again for the RedBirds. In comes Mark Rzepczynski, also known to Cardinal fans as scrabble. (You can see why). Gonzo drives in two with a pop fly double off of Holiday’s glove. Dodgers lead 8-4! More misadventures in left field at Dodger Stadium for Matt Holiday is hilarious! Hanley whiffed to end the inning.
Jamey Wright pitches a scoreless top of the eighth. Brandon League comes in to close the game in the top of the ninth. The Cardinals did score a run on a Yadier Molina single, defensive indifference, and two ground outs. The Dodgers get off the shnide, and win it 8-5!
The Dodgers received several injury related updates before the game. First, pitcher Ted Lilly will not be returning this season. No big surprise there. He will have surgery to clean up his ailing neck and shoulder, and be ready to return next season. Kenley Jansen is cleared to pitch next Tuesday. He is off of blood thinners, and we will at least get him for the last couple of weeks of the season. The news on Clayton Kershaw however is not good. It appears his hip is still bothering, and he may not be able to pitch on Sunday. The Dodgers only said he is tentatively scheduled for Sunday. I think they are waiting to see what happens tomorrow. If the Dodgers somehow win tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised to see if he has another cortisone shot, and takes his turn. We’ll see.
The Dodgers finally snap the losing streak. They improve to 75-70, and move back to within one game of the second wild card.
Before I sign off, let’s salute a true hero, Luis Cruz. The man who was plucked out of relative obscurity, is saving the Dodger season right now. Cruz is a dedication to the ideal that hard work pays off. Cruz gives hope to all underdogs. Proving anything is possible. Cochito is an inspiration to anyone who has a dream. Never give up on your dreams. They can come true. Luis Cruz is a prime example.
The beat goes on tomorrow night. The Dodgers must win again to stay afloat in the wild card race. It won’t be easy. The Cardinals will give the ball to Jamie Garcia, while the Dodgers will counter with Joe Blanton. Join us tomorrow Dodger fans. This wonderful win gives me hope that maybe we’re not dead yet? Who knows, anything is possible. I love you Cochito!!!! Go Blue.