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A Holliday for Dodger Fans

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Guest post by Zack Jerome/Special to LAist

After the stunning conclusion of Game 2 of the NLDS yesterday at Chavez Ravine, Cardinals’ shortstop Brendan Ryan told the St. Louis Dispatch "It makes me sick, absolutely sick to my stomach." Moments before Mark Loretta sent a looping liner into center field for a walk off winner, I knew how Ryan felt. Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright had been tying Dodger hitters in knots for eight innings. It was a slow death he was dealing us.

I admit that sitting in the stands my hope wavered. I got to thinking about the long wait to get out of the stadium, trapped in a seat of cars containing fans feeling the weight of the long wait until Friday and a chance at redemption. This game was all but over.

James Loney hit a lazy, slicing drive right at left fielder Matt Holliday and the entire stadium seemed to be lurching towards the isles in anticipation of leaving. Only Holliday booted it. He flat out booted it. Somewhere between shadows and sunlight, twirling towels and indecisive glovework, Holliday booted it. He Bucknered.

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Loney hustled into second base. Juan Pierre comes in to run. Casey Blake fights for a difficult walk. Belliard ties it with a looping liner to center. An unlikely passed ball advances the runners. Martin walks. Loretta singles his way into October lore.

After the game, the Cardinals were somber in an interview. We hear a lot of “we’re down, but not out” talk. Still, the Dodgers took the best 1-2 punch in baseball and held their ground. It reminded me of westerns. You know, when the bad guys unload their revolvers and tear a joint up. The dust settles and our hero emerges from the darkness. He’s alive and now it’s time for the enemy to head for the hills.

As I said, there was a lot of talk about how the Cards could win three games in a row. The great Albert Pujols, whose mighty bat has been thus far silenced by intentional walks and well-located pitching, went so far as to tell the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "This team can win 11 games in a row." And he’s right. They can. Only nothing screams to me that they are ready to. The team that refuses to give up was across the hall packing their bags for St. Louis and a chance to sweep the mighty Redbirds.

I got caught up in October at that stadium. Strangers were tackling each other out of sheer confusion and bliss. One kid about my age was there with his parents who with two outs went up the aisle to get a head start on leaving. Their son refused, staying in his seat committed to biting every nail off his fingers. After Loney and the baseball gods negotiated another chance for the Dodgers, they tried to come back to their seats. Their son along with our entire section forced them to watch from the top of the stairs. You can’t mess with what is working.

The man sitting behind me, someone I’d consider part of my “summer family” kept repeating over and over, “You never know…” He was right. You never do. This was baseball at her finest. This was baseball strutting her stuff: Improbable heroes, inexplicable failures and enough tension to sink a warship.

I sat with my father in the stands for at least forty minutes after the game ended. We had to repeat what had happened. We had to make sure we understood. In a game of statistics, we were the luckiest of fans.

We had seen the outlier.