AJ Helps Dodgers Overcome Jay and Clay's Bogus Journey
Despite left field and the mound being quite bodacious adventures for left fielder Jay Gibbons and starter Clayton Kershaw, all was forgotten thanks to the bullpen and AJ Ellis coming off the bench as the Dodgers scrapped through with a 7-6 win in 11 innings staving off official postseason elimination for one more day.
With the game tied 6-6 in the 11th inning, Rockies’ reliever Manny Delcarmen walked Andre Ethier to load the bases to get to AJ Ellis who went 6-for-7 in the previous two games of the series before given a day off for this game. With the infield playing in and Delcarmen working inside, Ellis and his newly found shortened swing made contact over shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s head for the walk-off single.
“I felt really good and comfortable in that situation,” Ellis said. “Anytime you’re hitting with the bases loaded and the infield in, you know you have a lot of holes out there. So you don’t have to do too much. Just put a good swing on something, and more times than not you’re going to have good results.”
The win reminded Matt Kemp of last year’s NL West winning team.
“We fought hard every day last year if we were down six runs, seven runs, whatever it was. We fought to the end. It shows what type of team we are capable of being. I just wish we started doing that a little bit earlier.”
After laying low the two of the last three games with perfect first innings, Kershaw’s first inning adventures started up again this Sunday afternoon. After walking Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera, Carlos Gonzalez hit a fly ball to right field that advanced the runners to second and third bases. Then came the moment of deliberation: with first base open, do you intentionally walk Troy Tulowitzki? After all the Dodgers hadn’t done that in the prior two games.
By miracle, the decision was made to intentionally walk Tulowitzki to load the bases. And it appeared to work when Kershaw got Melvin Mora to strike out swinging.
But Gibbon’s adventure started when Jason Giambi hit a long fly ball to left field that Gibbons couldn’t keep in his glove clearing the bases giving the Rockies the 3-0 lead.
“It went in and out of the sun,” Gibbons said. “It just kept going. When I went to jump my shoulder got caught on the wall.”
And hand in hand Gibbons and Kershaw continued their tubular trek in the second inning. After Gibbons dropped another ball in shallow left field by Paul Phillips, officially scored as Gibbons’ first error as a Dodger, he bobbled another ball on a single hit by Fowler after fielding it drawing a rain of boos from the stands.
“That wasn’t fun,” Gibbons admitted about the first two innings. “I feel like if I made the plays we win this game easily. All around it was a pretty stinky game.”
While the only thing damaged on that play was Gibbon’s ego, things soon ballooned for Kershaw.
Kershaw gave up a double, single, and grounder that scored three runs for the Rockies, and after all was said and done 64 pitches were on Kershaw’s arm and the Rockies had six runs on the scoreboard.
In spite of the wildness, the Dodgers managed to pick up Kershaw from down 6-1 in the second inning to win the game their largest come-from-behind victory of the season and largest June 2, 2009 when they came back from 5-0 down to the Arizona Diamonabcks to win 6-5.
“He had a pretty tough day,” Kemp said. “You usually don’t see that out of him, but we picked him up today.”
“Since I’ve been here we haven’t done anything for him,” Gibbons said. “It felt good to let him off the hook and get the win.”
In the first inning, Andre Ethier hit solo home run to right field.
And Gibbons started his road to redemption with one simple strikeout that started a Dodger rally in the fourth inning. Despite being booed when being announced to the batter’s box, he made it to first base on a wild pitch after whiffing on a third strike.
“At least I did something today,” Gibbons joked. “I did that on purpose. All I can do is hustle. I’m just really glad the catcher didn’t see that ball.”
After Casey Blake struck out and Loney flew out to left center, the two out rally struck.
Ryan Theriot, Rod Barajas and Jamey Carroll singled and Rafael Furcal doubled to give the Dodgers three runs and cut the Rockies lead to 6-4.
Gibbons redeemed himself in the ninth inning with a diving catch on Gonzalez’s shallow line drive.
Matt Kemp brought the Dodgers to within a run in the seventh inning with a 430-foot solo home run and tied the game in the ninth inning with an RBI double that scored Rafael Furcal who also doubled. Kemp ended up going 3-for-5 with a walk and two RBI and fell a triple short of the cycle.
“I felt relaxed up there, felt like I knew what I was doing,” Kemp said. “Got some good pitches to hit and made some good things happen today.”
Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jonathan Broxton and George Sherrill combined for seven scoreless innings.