I write this postgame recap with a heavy heart, after the Dodgers were painfully eliminated from postseason contention at the hands of the hated Giants, losing 4-3, after the Cardinals had lost to the reds 3-1 earlier at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals got lucky. With the Dodger loss, St. Louis clinches the second NL Wild Card, and will play Atlanta on Friday night at Turner Field. The Dodger’s season is over. This game had everything, and while being painful at the end, kept us on the edge of our seats.
Sometimes it’s just not meant to be, but this is a frustrating way to end the season. Before the game the Dodgers got the gift that they were needing to stay alive. Coming into tonight’s game against the Giants, the Dodgers had to win their final two games and hope the reds beat the Cardinals in the final two just two force a one-game tiebreaker at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night. The Dodgers had won six straight games coming into tonight’s must win game.
Before the game we learned that tonight’s starting pitcher Chris Capuano hurt himself swinging a bat with a donut. While swinging a bat, one of the donuts that players use to add weights to the bat hit him in the shoulder. It was reported that Cappy had a sore shoulder, but the Dodgers had no one else to start in his place. They had no choice, Cappy had to start. Of course one last injury screws the Dodgers before the year ends. It wasn’t just Cappy’s bad outing that cost the Dodgers tonight, they made several mistakes, including several more tactical blunders committed by Don Mattingy.
The Dodgers mission was simple, just win to stay alive with Kershaw going in tomorrow’s season finale. While the Giants only mission was apparent. They wanted to knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs. Even Angel Pagan publicly stated this to the media. I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to watch our hated rivals knock us out of the postseason, but that’s just what they did. We’ll have to wait until next year to get our payback.
It was our old nemesis Barry Zito that kept the Dodger bats at bay through six effective innings, while whiffing six. The Giants took the lead early on a solo home run from Buster Posey. The Dodgers would tie the game in the bottom of the second inning with a Hanley Ramirez triple, and scored on a Luis Cruz grounder. Hanley’s triple was preceded by a long drive from Adrian Gonzalez that looked like a for sure home run, or at least an extra base-hit, but Xavier Nady made a leaping catch against the wall to rob Gonzo and the Dodgers.
The Giants took the lead back when Joaquin Arias hit a solo home run, and the Giants led 2-1. The Giants would add two more in that fifth frame. Mattingly was forced to hook Cappy in the fourth inning because he was so ineffective and was using Jamey Wright. In the top of the fifth, After Sanchez singled, there was a force play, and a throwing error on a pick-off attempt by Jamey Wright. After Zito whiffed, Mattingly made the first of his tactical blunders, by choosing to intentionally walk Angel Pagan, and pitch to Marco Scutaro with runners on base. Scutaro was hitting like .400 with runners in scoring position for the Giants, and he doubled home both runners to give the Giants a 4-1 lead. Matt Kemp was retired twice with runners on base during the fifth and seventh innings. His whiff ended the seventh leaving Victorino stranded at third base.
The Dodgers attempted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh. After Ethier was hit by a pitch, A.J. Ellis slammed a two run home run to center field, that just cleared the wall and Angel Pagan’s leaping glove to pull the Dodgers within one run at 4-3. The place was rocking after that. There was hope. Then the critical error that perhaps cost the Dodgers the season. After the AJ homer, Mark Ellis doubled into the gap, and after Pagan overran the ball, M.Ellis tried to extend his double into a triple, and was thrown out at third. That Tootblan would prove costly as Victorino would immediately triple down the line in right.
The Dodgers attempted one last ditched rally in the bottom of the ninth, but they came up just short. Ethier singled to lead off. Then after the Giants brought in Sergio Romo to pitch. Gordon was sent in to pinch-run for Ethier. Mattingly made another costly blunder ordering AJ to try and bunt, even though Gordon ended up stealing second base anyways. He took the bat out of one of our hottest hitter’s hands. AJ couldnt lay down the bunt, and then after falling behind 0-2 because of the bunt, whiffed. Gordon did end up stealing second like I said. It was close, but he beat the throw. Mark Ellis was at the plate with two outs in the ninth and Gordon at second, and a chance to redeem himself for his Tootblan, but he flies out to center, and the Dodger season comes to an end.
Chris Capuano’s first pitch to Angel Pagan is popped up to first base. Marco Scutaro sends Andre Ethier to the warning track for a long fly out. Cappy gets Pablo Sandoval to ground out to third, and that ends the inning. Barry Zito starts the bottom of the first and gets Mark Ellis to fly out to right field. Shane Victorino also lifts a fly ball to right for the second out. Zito whiffs Matt Kemp on a curveball to end the inning.
In the top of the second, Buster Posey leads off with a booming home run to left field to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. Hunter Pence follows with a ground out. Xavier Nady pops out to short. Hector Sanchez flies out to end the inning, but not before the damage is done.
Adrian Gonzalez leads off the bottom of the second with a long drive to deep left field that looked like it was headed out for a home run. However Xavier Nady made a leaping catch against the wall to rob Gonzo of a home run, or extra base-hit. Next up Hanley Ramirez triples into the right field corner. The ball kicks off the low wall, and Pence has to dig it out. Ramirez is in with a stand-up triple. Luis Cruz’s grounder to short, scores Hanley to tie the game at 1-1. Andre Ethier doubles into the gap. A.J. Ellis is intentionally walked to bring up pitcher Chris Capuano. Zito whiffs Cappy to end the frame.
The Giants plate another run to retake the lead in the top of the third and threaten for more. Cappy serves up a lead-off home run to Joaquin Arias, and the Giants now lead 2-1. After Zito grounds out, Pagan and Scutaro both single. Scutaro’s base hit was a perfect hit and run single, putting runners at first and third. The Dodgers have a meeting on the mound with Pablo Sandoval at the plate, and Posey on deck. Jamey Wright was warming in the bullpen, but the Dodgers stay with Cappy. Sandoval hits a sharp grounder to third, and Cruz makes an amazing diving stop gets up and turns the double play to get the Dodgers out of the inning! What a play by Cochito!
Bottom of the third. M.Ellis grounds back to the box. Victorino is called out on a check swing. Kemp also whiffs to quickly end the third. Posey leads off the top of the fourth with a base hit. Don Mattingly can’t take any chances and is forced to hook Cappy in the fourth inning. Jamey Wright is called in from the bullpen. He whiffs Pence, and gets Nady to ground into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play!
Meanwhile in St.Louis, the reds were doing their job by finishing off the Cardinals 3-1. Scott Rolen hit a solo home run, and Jay Bruce, and former Dodger fatty Navarro drove in runs as another former Dodger Jonathon Broxton helped finish off the Cards. Can the Dodgers pull off a miracle?
Bottom of the fourth. Gonzalez leads off the frame by being called out on a check swing. It looked like he was just trying to get out of the way. Hanley reaches base on an infield single to short. With Cruz at the plate, Hanley appears to be picked off of first base, but the Dodgers get a break. Scutaro drops the throw from Posey, and Hanley is safe at second. However the Dodgers can’t capitalize, Cruz pops out, and Ethier whiffs on a full count.
Top of the fifth. Wright remains on the mound. Hector Sanchez leads off with a single. There is a force out on an Arias ground ball, and it appeared that Mark Ellis came off the bag to field the throw, but the Dodgers win the argument. With Zito at the plate, Wright throws a pick-off throw away, and Arias advances to second on the throwing error. Zito whiffs for the second out. Then Don Mattingly curiously intentionally walks Angel Pagan. I’m not sure why. I guess he was trying to setup a force play. Marco Scutaro was hitting .305 with runners in scoring position. Scutaro’s double down the right field line drives a nail into the Dodger’s coffin. Two runs score, and the Giants go up 4-1. Sandoval’s single sends Scutaro to third. Mattingly has to hook Wright, and calls in Matt Guerrier. He whiffs Posey to end the frame, and keep the game at 4-1.
Bottom of the fifth. AJ grounds out. Juan Rivera gets a pinch-hit single to center. M.Ellis pops out. Victorino collects a bloop single to center. Pagan over runs the ball, and the runners advance to second and third with Matt Kemp coming to the plate. The Giants could have intentionally walked Bison, but they pitch to him. Bison hits a sharp line drive back to the box that Zito deflects, picks up and fires to first just in time to retire Bison and get the Giants out of the inning. Sadly, the Dodgers don’t score.
Shawn Tolleson pitches a scoreless top of the sixth for the Dodgers. He walks Pence, but gets Nady to ground into a double play. Sanchez whiffs for the third out. In the bottom of the sixth, Gonzalez gets a lead-off single. But Hanley pops out, and Cruz hits into a double play.
Tolleson stays out to pitch the top of the seventh for the Dodgers. Arias flies out, and Zito whiffs. Pagan doubles just inside the chalk of the first base line. Ronald Belisario is called in to pitch and retires Scutaro on a ground out. Inning over.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers are running out of time. The Dodgers get close, but make a huge mistake on the base paths which cost them a run. Zito opens the frame by plunking Ethier with a pitch. He is hooked, and Guillermo Mota, the former Dodger is called in from the San Francisco bullpen. AJ has a great at-bat, fouling off pitch after pitch and then finally he homers to deep center field to pull the Dodgers to within one run. It’s 4-3 SF. Nick Punto pinch-hitting for Belisario’s spot whiffs on a called third strike. Then M.Ellis doubles into the gap, and Pagan takes a route to the ball and over runs it. Unfortunately M.Ellis tries to get greedy and is thrown out trying to go to third. That play would prove huge as Victorino triples down the line and into the right field corner. M.Ellis would have scored on that. Righty George Kontos is called in and whiffs Matt Kemp on a check swing to end the inning. Kemp slams his bat down in frustration.
Kenley Jansen comes in for the top of the eighth and blows the Giants away, he whiffs Sandoval, Posey, and Pence. Bottom of the eighth. Javier Lopez gets Gonzalez to ground out. Lopez is removed, and Santiago Casilla is called in. He gets both Hanley and Cruz to ground out.
Brandon League pitches a scoreless top of the ninth, and we move to the bottom of the ninth, with the Dodgers down 4-3, and needing a comeback to keep their season alive.
Move to the bottom of the ninth. The last chance for the Dodgers. Lefty Jeremy Affeldt comes in and allows a single to Ethier. With Ethier on base, Mattingly has Dee Gordon pinch-run for him. With AJ at the plate, Mattingly turns to the one thing that has failed him throughout the year, the bunt. Mattingly orders AJ to bunt, and AJ is unable to get the bunt down, and quickly gets two strikes on him. The bunt is taken off, and because of the bunt attempts putting him behind in the count, he whiffs. With one out, Elian Herrera is announced, but is called back, and Bobby Abreu comes off the bench to pinch-hit. The Giants make a pitching change and bring in Sergio Romo. Abreu flies out to left, and the Dodgers are down to their last out. With M.Ellis at the plate, Gordon steals second, and just beats the throw from Giant’s catcher Hector Sanchez by a hare. With Gordon at second now, M.Ellis has a chance to redeem himself for his Tootblan. Mark Ellis flies out to center, and the Dodger season comes to an end.
Stacie and myself would like to thank you all for following along and being part of the season with us. We greatly appreciate all of our readers. We promise we’ll be back next year bigger and better than ever. 2013 is going to be a special season for the Dodgers, I can see it.
I wish I had something more meaningful, or profound to say right now, but I don’t. Baseball is a lot like life. There are crushing moments of failure and disappointment, balanced with moments of brevity and joy. The Dodgers have provided us with excitement all season long. Even though they came up just short this season, I commend the Dodgers, Don Mattingly, and his coaching staff for a commendable effort this season. It just was not meant to be this year. Sometimes, Baseball happens, just like life.
Again Stacie and I would like to thank everyone that has read our site, and followed along during the season with us. Join us tomorrow as we cover the final Dodger game of the season. I’m proud to be a Dodger fan and bleed Dodger Blue. They made us proud this season. Next year is sure to be even more exciting! Just wait til next year Dodger fans…..
Topics: A.J. Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Bobby Abreu, Chris Capuano, Dee Gordon, Don Mattingly, Elian Herrera, Hanley Ramirez, Jamey Wright, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers, Luis Cruz, Mark Ellis, Matt Kemp, Ronald Belisario, Shane Victorino, Shawn Tolleson