The Dodgers had this game in the bag, until Don Mattingly inexcplicably brought in resident blown save expert Brandon League to hold a three-run lead in the top of the ninth, with Kenley Jansen having the night off. Of course Mattingly failed to act quick enough, and didn’t start getting Paco Rodriguez warm until after League started predictably serving up hits. The terrible bullpen management almost blew a very respectable outing from Stephen Fife, and a good night for the offense. Thank goodness, it was a great running catch by Matt Kemp in center field that saved the game, and robbed Marco Scutaro of an extra-base hit, and recorded the final out of the game. The Dodgers held on to beat the Giants 6-5, and now have won a season high four games in a row.
The Dodgers gave us a nice little surprise tonight, as they announced the return of Matt Kemp to the Dodger lineup. The center fielder was activated off of the DL tonight, and was back at his familiar center field position, batting fifth. Originally Kemp was supposed to just get evaluated from the medical staff and possibly be activated later in the week. However, the medical team examined him and gave their thumbs up, and Kemp wanted to play. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers optioned poor Elian Herrera back to Albuquerque.
The Dodgers were looking to continue some of their good mojo. The Dodgers finally were able to win three in a row, (for only the second time all season), and tonight were going for a season high four game winning streak, and a series win over their hated rival Giants.
For that, the Dodgers gave the ball to dependable Stephen Fife. The Fifster has had a consecutive quality start streak, and has been very solid of late. The Giants countered with rookie left hander Mike Kickham, who had only made one big league start prior.
The Dodger’s offense came to life as a pair of two-run home runs, backed another solid performance from Stephen fife to give the Dodgers a 6-5 win, a series victory over the Giants, and a four game winning streak.
The Dodgers used a two-run shot from Mark Ellis in the bottom of the third to strike oil first. Mark’s home run preceded a Fedex double. Buster Posey’s line drive home run in the top of the fourth cut the lead to 2-1, and then the Giants actually tied it up in the top of the fifth. The Giants used a Hunter Pence single, a piddly infield single, a Fife wild pitch, and an Andres Torres ground out to plate the second run.
The Dodgers responded by re-taking the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Hanley Ramirez’s two-run home run that bounced off the left field foul pole, preceded an Adrian Gonzalez double which put the Dodgers on top 4-2. The Dodgers would never look back. They tacked on two more runs in that frame, to give them a 6-2 lead at the time. The Giants did plate an additional run on a Brandon belt solo shot, which made it a 6-3 game.
The Dodgers thwarted a potential scare in the seventh, when the Giants put two men on with two outs. Blanco’s grounder was heading to the hole at first, but Gonzo fed to Howell, who made a nice kick slide of the bag to snuff out that threat. Mark Ellis, Hanley, Ethier, and Fedex al had two hits. Matt Kemp was 1 for 4 with a single and a run scored in his return to the Dodger lineup. Yasiel Puig was 0 for 4, which lowered his average to .420.
The reliable Stephen Fife threw 6.2 innings allowing just three runs on four hits and whiffing three. He made 86 pitches before being removed in the seventh. Don Mattingly’s unexplainable usage of Brandon League nearly gave away the game, as he was unable to record a single out. The Dodgers were able to hang on, and secure the win, but it became very sketch. Here’s how the game played out.
Stephen Fife retires the side in order in the bottom of the first. Gregor Blanco, a slow roller to second. Marco Scutaro’s liner to Bison, and Buster Posey’s pop up to short ends the top of the first. Lefty rookie Mike Kickham whiffs two of the three hitters he faces in the bottom of the first. He whiffs Mark Ellis, and Adrian Gonzalez, and gets Yasiel Puig to fly out to center.
Nick Punto climbs the ladder to snare Pablo Sandoval’s liner in the top of the second. Punto then makes another great catch, leaning over the box seat railings to catch Hunter Pence’s foul pop-up. Punto nearly fell into the stands but somehow holds onto the ball. Brandon Belt’s grounder ends the frame.
Matt Kemp flies out in his first at-bat back from the disabled list in the bottom of the second. Hanley and Ethier both ground out, and that’s the inning.
The Dodgers strike first in the bottom of the third. Tim Federowicz doubles off the low wall in left. Nick Punto’s bouncing liner is pounced on by Sandoval, and throws him out. Mark Ellis immediately homers into the left field pavilions, and the Dodgers take the lead 2-0. Yasiel Puig makes the third out with a line out to left.
The Giants score their first run in the top of the fourth, when Buster Posey hits a line drive home run just over the left field wall. That homer was on a rope, and seemed to confuse Puig. The Dodger’s lead is 2-1.
The Dodgers go down in order in the bottom of the fourth. Matt Kemp fouls out in his second at-bat, as the Dodgers nurse a 2-1 lead into the fifth.
The Giants tie it up in the top of the fifth, in annoying fashion. Hunter Pence singles. Brandon Belt’s little rollers to the left of the mound dies on the grass, for an infield single. That put runners at first and second. Fife then uncorks a costly wild pitch, which allows both runners to move up to second and third. An Andres Torres grounder scores Pence to tie the game at 2-2. Brandon Crawford’s pop up is a huge out, and the opposing pitcher Kickham whiffs to end the threat.
Ethier leads off the bottom of the fifth, with a double. Tim Federowicz lines out to Torres. Punto singles to right, but Ethier has to stop at third. Of course Fife whiffs while trying to bunt. The count goes 3-2 to Mark Ellis with Puig on deck, but he flies out.
Gregor Blanco leads off the top of the sixth with a walk. Scutaro flies out to left. Blanco is thrown out trying to steal by Fedex. His throw is a bit high, but M.Ellis makes a great tag to get him. With two outs now, and the bases empty, Posey walks. Sandoval’s sinking liner is backhanded by Puig, and the Dodgers escape.
Kickham whiffs Puig to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Gonzo doubles. Hanley slams a two-run home run that bounces off the left field foul pole. Hanley watches the ball hit the pole, ala Carlton Fisk. The Dodgers go up 4-2. Then the gates open on Kickham, Kemp singles to center. Ethier’s line drive single sends Kemp to second. The Giants make a pitching change and bring in another rookie Jake Dunning. FedEx singles to left to score Kemp from second, who slides in just ahead of the throw, with both hamstrings intact, to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead. Punto’s head-first slide prevents a double play. With Fife batting, Dunning uncorks a wild pitch, which allows Ethier to score the sixth run, to give the Dodgers a 6-2 lead.
We head into the top of the seventh, when the Giants start to make a threat. With Fife still on the mound, Pence pos out. Belt homers into the right field seats cutting the Dodger lead to 6-3. Fife gets Torres to pop out for the second out, then here comes Mattingly. With nobody on base and two outs, there is no reason to take out Fife, but it’s like a sick obsession for Mattingly to constantly mix and match. So he brings in left J.P. Howell with a string of lefties coming up.
Brandon Crawford, and pinch-hitter Tony Abreu both single, and after a full count to Blanco, he slaps a grounder into the hole at first and second which pulls Gonzo way off the bag. Of course he makes another long throw to first, trusting Howell to cover in time. Howell barely gets over in time and has to slide kick the bag before Blanco just in time for the last out. That could have been a very dangerous situation.
Ronald Belisario enters the game to pitch the top of the eighth. Scutaro grounds to third. He gets Posey to whiff, and Sandoval ops out.
We move to the top of the ninth, with the Dodgers still leading 6-3. Here’s where our nightmares become a reality. Jansen had been used three nights in a row, so he was unavailable to pitch. Mattingly brings in Brandon League and he predictably was unable to hold a three-run lead. He was so bad that he was unable to retire a single batter.
Pence singles to right, and then Belt doubles him home, and it’s 6-4 Dodgers. Mattingly continues to twiddle his thumbs in the dugout. Torres’s single scored Belt and the lead was cut to 6-5 with nobody out and a runner at first. Finally Mattingly trudges out to take out League to a chorus of well deserved boos. In comes Paco. Crawford singles through the hole and there’s first and second. Pinch-hitter Juan Perez flies out to Kemp, and the runners hold. Paco whiffs Blanco for the second out. Then Scutaro sends a long drive to deep center, sending Kemp back to the warning track. Kemp had gotten a poor jump on the ball and had to make a reaching over the shoulder catch as he slides against the wall. Great catch! Kemp punches the wall in celebration as the Dodgers hang on to win!
Phew! That was way too close. It should never have been that close. That should have been an easy out. I still can’t believe Mattingly brought in that Bum in the ninth inning again. Again, I’m still in favor of an outright release of Brandon League.
Anyways, let’s forget about that Bum and Mattingly, and just celebrate another win. The Dodgers have four wins in a row! Four! I almost passed out. I am in shock. Can the Dodgers get the sweep? Join us tomorrow as the Dodgers go for what would be a very satisfying sweep. Tomorrow night will see a battle of aces, as Tim Lincecum will face off against Clayton Kershaw. Sweep those bastards! Go Blue.