Welp the magic number is down to four because Arizona lost to Colorado. See I can look at the bright side of things. Of course the Dodgers suffered another injury, this time to Andre Ethier’s ankle in the eighth inning. I’m guessing it’s the ankle? But the Giants finally got to Kershaw, as they won a closely contested game 4-2 to even the series.
So every day the Dodgers inch closer and closer to a division title. Every day we watch the magic number shrink, but it’s getting to that time. The magic number coming into tonight was at 5, the lowest in all of Baseball. The day seems closer than ever, although these last couple of weeks of the regular season always seem to be the slowest. The Dodgers can clinch as early as Sunday, but Monday or Tuesday on the road in Arizona of all places seems the most likely.
So this is the final series at Dodger Stadium against the Giants. The two teams had split 12 games entering Thursday night. But with the Giants buried in last place and the Dodgers on the verge of the division crown makes it all the sweeter. The Dodgers still on the heels of another thrilling extra inning victory, this time it was Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI single that scored Carl Crawford in the bottom of the tenth inning to win it. Last night’s Giants/Dodgers battle had everything in it. A pitcher’s duel, a home run, questionable bunting, Dodgers stranded on base, a rare Jansen blown save, and of course Don Mattingly’s name blunder. Mattingly accidentally called in the wrong reliever, or the bullpen sent in the wrong guy. Either way, it was hilarious. So what could game two have in store for us?
Well for one thing, the lineup looked like a 12.5 game lead with 16 to play type lineup. Hanley Ramirez is still nursing his stiff hamstring, so I didn’t expect him to be playing, and he wasn’t. Then we find out that he has an irritated nerve in his back after an MRI. So it’s not his hamstring I’m guessing but his sciatic nerve. Oy. Who knows how long he will be out for? Although Anthony Jackson is speculating he will be playing by next week after a cortisone injection. But couldn’t Gonzo at least start? Nope, instead we saw Michael Young at first base and batting third, and Nick Punto at shortstop batting second, and Scott Van Slyke in left for Crawford. This was a lineup against the Giants, the Giants!? I tell you Mattingly has got some cojenes.
But the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw matching up with San Francisco’s ace Madison Bumgarner. Kershaw has dominated the Giants in his career, and the Dodgers have never been able to really hit Bumgarner, so this one figured to be a really cool pitching duel.
The Dodgers rarely ever get Kershaw more than one or two runs per start. Could the Dodger’s offense muster up more than that for Kersh? They didn’t figure to score much with Gonzo, Hanley, and Crawford all out of the lineup. This was the most Dodgersy/Giantsy game ever played, at least that’s how it began. It was a scoreless pitching duel until the sixth. Neither team could muster up much of anything off of the opposing starter. Each team had only three hits until the sixth inning. But fittingly it was a former Giant, Uribe who broke the tie. In the sixth frame, after a one-out one-hop single from Michael Young ate up Arias at shortstop, Uribe bombed a home run over the left field wall to put the Dodgers up 2-0. Uribe is blazing hot right now. But the Uribe blast would not hold up, as Kershaw would serve up three runs to the Giants in the seventh, although just two were earned thanks to a Van Slyke error in left field. The Giants scored three runs with four consecutive hits in the frame,
Well in the top of the first, annoying Angel Pagan softly lines out to Punto. Marco Scutaro’s comebacker grazes Kershaw’s leaping glove. Kersh recovers to record the out. Posey is retired on a rope to center. Dodgers coming up.
Bumgarner whiffs Yasiel Puig on some high cheese in the bottom of the first. Then a Punto deep fly ball. Michael Young singles through the shortstop hole. But Uribe makes out. We’re Scoreless after one. Kershaw gets the twitchy Hunter Pence to fly out, but Pablo Sandoval singles to center, and Arias’s piddly ground ball single through the first base hole puts two runners on for the Giants in the second. But Brett Pill pops out, and Perez’s comeback dribbler gets the Dodgers out of the inning without damage.
Van Slyke leads off the bottom of the second with a walk. Andre Ethier a whiff on a foul tip, but A.J. Ellis draws another walk. But M.Ellis pathetically whiffs, and Kershaw grounds back to the box. We’re scoreless after two.
Angel Pagan’s one-out bloop double in the top of the third, falls in between three Dodgers as they converge in shallow center. Of course it’s Pagan. It’s always Pagan. Welp, Kershaw then gets Scutaro on a high chopper back to the mound, looking Pagan back to second before recording the out. Posey’s grounder up the middle is flagged down by Punto as he throws on the run to get the third out. Phew!
In the top of the fourth, Kershaw retires the side, thanks to three good plays at third from Uribe. All three Giants hitters hit grounders to third. In the bottom half of the fourth, the Dodgers go down in order.
The Dodgers briefly threatened in the bottom half of the fifth, but nothing came of it. M.Ellis with a lead-off duck snort single up along third. After the infield single, Kershaw sacrifices him to second with Puig on deck. But Puig flies out. Kershaw erases Scutaro’s single in the sixth, by whiffing Pagan, and then getting Posey to ground into an inning ending 5-4-3 double play.
Young’s one-out hopper eats up Arias and he reaches on what is ruled generously as a hit in the bottom of the sixth. Uribe then immediately bombs one over then left field wall for a two-run shot to put the Dodgers up 2-0! Uribe’s eleventh home run of the year! Uribe is a hero! After Ethier is hit by a pitch in the back, A.J. bombs a long drive into left field, but Juan Perez makes an unbelievable diving tumbling catch as he slides into the low wall. That catch will probably be on some highlight reels. Darnit. That catch would prove pivotal.
Kershaw gives the lead right back though in the top of the seventh. The Giants scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead. Pence, Sandoval, Arias and Pill all single, and Van Slyke’s error on Arias’s line drive hit was costly for the Dodgers as well. The Giants take a 3-2 lead.
The offense blew another opportunity in the bottom of the seventh. Mark Ellis walks off of Jake Dunning, who replaces Bumgarner. After Dunning whiffs Schumaker, Puig singles M.Ellis to second. The Giants hook Dunning and bring in Jean Machi. Punto grounds into a force as he slides head first into first base again. Adrian Gonzalez pinch-hits for Young, but whiffs and the Dodgers don’t score.
Pence homers off of Chris Withrow in the top of the eighth. His 22 home run of the year makes the score 4-2 Giants. Move to the bottom of the eighth. Santiago Casilla gives up a single to Uribe, but Crawford GIDP’s. Ethier doubles down the line, but comes up lame coming into second base and has to be removed for a pinch-runner. We hear that it’s his ankle, but we’re not initially sure. The Dodgers don’t score again though.
Move to the bottom of the ninth with the Giants up 4-2, and Sergio Romo into close it out. The Dodgers get a rally going when M.Elllis singles up the middle, and Hairston’s ground ball single gets by Crawford to put runners at first and second. Puig of course whiffs on a wicked slider for the first out. Punto beats out what looks like a for sure double play ball with another one of his trademark head first slides. That brings up Gonzo with two outs and runners at first and third. Gonzo’s smokes a line drive, but it deflects off the foot of Romo, and Arias gets to the ball and throws out Gonzo. The Giants even the series, and the Dodgers fall to the Giants by a score of 4-2.
I guess you can’t win them all, but the offense has been quite feeble the last couple of weeks. The Dodgers are a mediocre 6-6 in the month of September.
I hate losing to the Giants and don’t want to talk about it any further. This game was really annoying. Kershaw got handed with his ninth loss of the season. Kershaw allowed two earned runs, three total on eight hits through seven frames. He whiffed six and walked none, and his ERA is now 1.94. At least Kersh’s ERA stays under 2. This is the first time Kershaw has allowed three runs to the Giants in 13 starts, dating back to 2011 I believe. I guess you could say Baseball happened to the Dodgers tonight. Whatever.
Well it looks like the Dodgers won’t clinch the division crown until they get on the road starting Monday for their final trip of the year. Tomorrow night the series goes on in game three as Tim Lincecum will battle Ricky Nolasco at 6:10 PM.