Welcome back, Welcome back, Welcome back…..Yes indeed, (no not welcome back Kotter) but welcome back Dodgers! The Dodgers return from the all-star break hoping that time heals all wounds. With a few players banged up the four days off were just what the Dodgers ordered, despite the team being red hot entering the break. They had won 17 of their last 22 games, but face a tough assignment with a six game road trip, and a three game series in the nation’s capital to face the Washington Nationals.
With Yasiel Puig, and Carl Crawford back in the lineup, the Dodgers were hoping for some fireworks. There were a few, but this was a tough gritty win for the Dodgers. They fought , and battled and came back after blowing a 2-1 lead, to win a tough one-run game by a score of 3-2.
Ricky Nolasco countered Stephen Strasburg and each pitcher dueled for six and seven frames before both were removed receiving no-decisions. Nolasco wasn’t great but wasn’t terrible. He struggled with his command early and had to really fight his way out of jams. That included a fifth inning bases loaded none out jam he somehow David Copperfield’d his way out.
Strasburg had retired 11 in a row before being removed after the seventh. Washington scored their first run in the second when Bryce Harper doubled, and advanced to third on a fly to right. Puig’s throw to third looked on the money, but the umpire missed the call. Harper would score on a wild pitch from Nolasco.
The Dodgers scored all of their runs on home runs. In the top of the third, Adrian Gonzalez singled, and red-hot Hanley Ramirez hit another home run that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. That would hold for a little while, but we knew it was just a matter of time before Washington broke though, and broke through they did in the sixth inning. Zimmerman and Werthless singled and Ian Desmond’s bloop single to center would tie the game up at 2-2.
The Dodgers took the lead back for good in the top of the ninth. With Rafael Soriano on the mound, Andre Ethier hit his first home run since June 11, a solo shot over the right field railing to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. Captain Clch comes through again for the Dodgers!
The bullpen did a great job as Paco Rodriguez, Jose Dominguez, Ronald Belisario, and Kenley Jansen pitched 3.2 scoreless frames without allowing a single walk. Belisario picked up the win, and Jansen picked up the save. The Dodgers improve to 48-47, and await the results of the Arizona/San Francisco game. Here is how this exciting game played out……
Strasburg retires the Dodgers in the top of the first. Carl Crawford starts the game with his now trademarked weak grounder to first. Yasiel Puig fouls out, as Jayson Werthless, who still looks like a hobo from skid row, leans over the wall and reaches over the seats to make the catch. A clean shaven Adrian Gonzalez dunks a single to center. Strasburg uncorks a wild pitch which allows Gonzo to scamper into second. Ha, that may the only time anyone ever uses the word scamper and Gonzo in the same sentence. Anyways, Hanley Ramirez swings out of his shoes on a 2-2 breaking ball and pops out.
Nolasco overcomes early command struggles to toss a scoreless bottom of the first. Denard span walks. Then Nolasco falls behind 3-1 on Anthony Rendon before he grounds into a double play. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman grounds out to end the frame.
The Dodgers threatened in the top of the second but couldn’t score as usual. They could only hit piddly singles, and a double play ruined any chances of scoring. Strasburg starts off the frame wild by walking Andre Ethier. A.J. Ellis immediately hits into a double play before the Dodger can do anything. Then with two outs, consecutive singles from Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis put runners at first and second. But Nolasco is the batter and he whiffs.
The Dodgers have their usual early game run allowed, which comes in the second inning instead of the first. Bryce Harper, also known as Kid Hype doubles, and then moves over to tag up on Werthless’s line drive to right field. Puig fires a canon throw to third which appears to have tagged out Harper with a tag on the leg, but the umpire at third base missed it and calls him safe. Nolasco then uncorks a wild pitch of his own which easily scores Harper, and it’s 1-0 Washington. Then Ian Desmond doubles. Fortunately Chad Tracy, and Wilson Ramos both ground out to end the second.
The Dodgers come roaring back in the top of the third. The inning starts with Strasburg pathetically whiffing Crawford on a changeup, and Puig on an outside fastball. Gonzo connects with this second single to center. Hanley follows with a huge two-run shot to right center field that lands into the seats. The Dodgers go up 2-1 on Hanley’s ninth blast of the year.
After Nolasco shuts down the Nats in the bottom of the third, the Dodgers put together back-to-back singles from Uribe and M.Ellis with one out. Nolasco sacrifices the runners to second and third, but Crawford flies out to center.
The Nats puff out their chests again in the bottom of the fourth. Zimmerman and Harper with consecutive hits to open the frame. Harper goes into third just ahead of another cannon throw from Puig. Nolasco walks Werthless to load the bases with none out. All seemed bleak at this point. The Dodgers have a meeting on the mound to discuss what to do. Desmond’s slow grounder to third, is a force out at home. Uribe turns a very heads up play to preserve the Dodger lead. Tracy flies out to shallow left to Carl Crawford. It’s not deep enough to score Zimmerman, but Crawford’s rusty Pierre like noodle arm makes us all cringe. With two outs now, Ramos grounds back to the box. The Dodgers and Nolasco get out of it, and still lead 2-1. Give Nolasco a David Copperfield for that magic act.
In the bottom of the fifth, Strasburg grounds out, and Span singles. Rendon’s double play ends the inning, and after five the Dodgers lead 2-1.
After the Dodgers don’t score in the top of the sixth, Nolasco blows the tie in the bottom of the frame. Zimmerman singles to left. Harper whiffs. Wethless singles Zimmerman to third. Desmon’s soft bloop to center scores Zimmerman to tie the game at two. Ethier tried valiantly, diving for the ball but wasn’t able to catch it. Don Matttingly makes his obligatory double switch, bringing in right hander Jose Dominguez, and Nick Punto at third. Dominguez gets Chad Tracy to ground into an inning ending double play that preserves the 2-2 tie.
Flash forward to the bottom of the seventh with the score still tied at 2-2. Dominguez gets Ramos to ground out to third. Pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi’s flare single to left signals the end of the line for Dominguez. Mattingly makes another pitching change bringing in Paco Rodriguez to pitch to the lefties. Span’s grounder to second moves Lombardozzi over. Right hander Rendon hits a long slicing drive into the right field corner. Puig disappears and apparently makes the catch off camera. We eventually see the catch on the coors light freeze cam, which shows Puig making the catch as he leaps against the wall.
Washington brings in right hander Tyler Clippard to relieve Strasburg with the score still tied in the top of the eighth. He sets the Dodgers down in order again. The Dodger offense hasn’t been heard from since the fourth inning.
Paco remains on the mound for the bottom of the eighth. Zimmerman grounds out. Harper whiffs, and A.J. drops the ball so the out has to be recorded at first. Then Mattingly strikes again with this sick compulsion for double-switching punch less players into the game. Ronald Belisario is brought in to pitch, and Skip Schumaker replaces Puig in right field. Don’t ask me why, because I have no clue Belisario does the job getting Werthless to fly out to Schumaker.
The Dodgers finally take the lead in the top of the ninth. Right hander Rafael Soriano enters and serves up a solo home run to Ethier on a 3-2 pitch. Ethier’s home run just gets over the right field railing, and the Dodgers take the lead 3-2! That’s Ethier’s first home run since June 11.
We move to the bottom of the ninth. Enter Kenley Jansen for the save. Desmond is called out on strikes. Tracy grounds out and Ramos whiffs. Dodgers win 3-2!
That’s 18 of the last 23 now. The boys are on a roll, and I don’t mean of the dinner variety. The Dodgers are now two back depending on what happens up in San Francisco. We’ll keep an eye on the scoreboard for the rest of the night. Join us tomorrow at 4:05 PM as the Boys in Blue go for the series win as Zack Greinke counters left hander Gio Gonzalez.