Every offseason we like to go back and reminisce about some of the great moments and games of the season. The baseball season is long, and sometimes when we are faced with the reality of being eliminated from postseason contention we forget the highlights and individual performances which may offer us clues to the future of the team. Weaknesses and holes in the roster are usually the topic of conversation during the winter when management is trying to strengthen the team by shopping the free agent market. Sometimes it’s nice to relive some of the instances when the Dodgers were playing good baseball and players even may have broken records in the process.
On April 13th, Aaron Harang did break a Dodger record. It was early in the season, and we were all very much filled with hope since the Dodgers were hot right out of the gate due in part to a beastly beginning from Matt Kemp. On this night, the Dodgers were playing their fifth game against San Diego during their early schedule, and they would end up capturing their seventh victory of the season while only losing one game at that point. After Aaron Harang’s surprising yet incredible strikeout tsunami against his former team, the Dodgers remained undefeated at home (4-0). Remember how well the Dodgers played at home at the beginning of the season? For awhile, they had the best record at home of any team in baseball. That home dominance faded out during the course of the season, and that is something the Dodgers will have to certainly improve upon next season in order to make it into October.
Back to April, Friday the 13th, which by the way was very lucky for the Big Show ironically. In the first inning, Harang allows a lead-off single to Cameron Maybin but then follows up with three consecutive strikeouts to Will Venable, Chase Headley, and Yonder Alonso.
In the top of the second inning Harang then strikes out Jeremy Hermida, Orlando Hudson, and John Baker making it six consecutive Ks for the big right-hander. At this point, I was impressed because after all it is Aaron Harang.
Then in the bottom of the third Aaron Harang starts off by whiffing Jason Bartlett. Clayton Richard, the opposing pitcher is easily struck out. I then get very excited, because Aaron Harang is on the verge of something very special. Harang rears back and strikes out lead-off hitter Cameron Maybin for his ninth consecutive strikeout! That’s a new Dodger franchise record for consecutive strikeouts. The record was formerly held by the great Johnny Podres who struck out eight in a row back in 1962. Amazing! The Major League record was 10 consecutive strikeouts which was accomplished by Tom Seaver.
The Dodgers would end up scoring four runs in the bottom of the third inning. Justin Sellers, who was still healthy at this early point in the season, walks. Jason Bartlett’s error allows A.J. Ellis to reach safely. Tony Gwynn Jr.’s ground out moved the runners over to second and third after Aaron Harang fails to successfully execute a sacrifice bunt and is victim to his own poison- a strikeout. Mark Ellis comes up big with a two-run infield single, and Matt Kemp follows by drawing a walk. Rivera also walks as Richard’s meltdown continues. Andre Ethier then hit a two-run broken bat single (off a lefty), and the Dodgers have a 4-0 lead!
In the top of the fourth, all eyes are on Aaron Harang as he vies for the MLB record for consecutive strikeouts. It was not too be as Will Venable hits one over the fence making it 4-1. Alonso doubles in Headley to make it 4-2, and it looks like the old Harang is back. Hermida grounds out, and Justin Sellers makes a foolish choice to throw the runner out at first instead of home, and it’s now a one run game at 4-3. Things are getting sketchy as Baker manages a two out double, but Harang picks up his tenth strikeout by whiffing Bartlett to end the inning.
The Dodgers tack on four more runs in the bottom of the fourth after Sellers and A.J. Ellis hit back-to-back doubles. TGJ comes up with a RBI single making it 6-3. Matt Kemp, who is deep in Beast Mode at this point in April, unloads to right-center for a two-run homerun! The Dodgers now lead 8-3.
In the fifth, Harang picks up his 11th strikeout, and in the sixth he whiffs two more Padres giving him a career high 13 Ks! (that ties his career high) Aaron Harang ends up pitching 7 1/3 innings allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 13 strikeouts.
Then Kenley Jansen proceeds to blow the save in the top of the ninth inning by allowing a two-out two-run homerun to Chase Headley. The game is now tied at 8-8.
The Dodgers will have to work their magic in the bottom of the ninth inning. Unfortunately Aaron Harang does not get the decision in this game thanks to the bullpen. The Padres bring in Andrew Cashner, who throws 100-mph. Mark Ellis draws a walk, and he steals second to put the winning run in scoring position. Kemp walks after going 3-2. Then the Walkapalooza continues as James Loney walks to load the bases up! Bud Black hooks Cashner, and he brings in a lefty to try to get Ethier. The matchup backfires as Andre Ethier draws a four-pitch walk to bring in the winning run! A walk-off walk! That’s truly a very Dodger way to win a game.
*Note: Andre Ethier succeeds against two left-handed pitchers in this game (albeit a broken bat single and a walk).
Dodgers 9 6 0
Pirates 8 9 1
WP- Jansen (2-0)
LP- Cashner (0-1)
HR- Venable (1), Headley (2), Kemp (3)