Dodgers Dramatically Split in DC
The Dodgers are hanging precariously off of a cliff right now, coming into their day-night doubleheader 1 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card. To get themselves back on track, all the Dodgers have to do is beat the best team in baseball in the Washington Nationals and the second-best team in baseball in the Cincinnati Reds over the next six games. Easy, right?
Judging by the first game of the day-night doubleheader, things looked impossible for the Dodgers who lost to the Nats 3-1 in the first game despite getting nine hits. The Dodgers left 11 runners on base while going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
And here is where the Dodgers are the most frustrating. Just when you are ready to write them off, they reel you back in with a nano-thread of hope.
The loss momentarily put them two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, and with the Red Birds hosting the joke that call themselves the Houston Astros and the Dodgers taking a 30-minute rest before playing the Nats once again, that deficit could have easily been three games.
Then soemthing miraculous happened. The Dodgers started hitting not only with runners in scoring position but also with two outs. With the bases loaded in the third inning against Nats starter John Lannan, Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run single and Andre Ethier hit an RBI single to give the Dodgers the 3-0 lead.
And then it happened again. In the fourth inning, Matt Kemp singled home Matt Treanor with two outs. After Adrian Gonzalez singled to load the bases, Nats manager Davey Johnson gave the hook to Lannan bringing in Chien-Ming Wang.
Wang threw a wild pitch that scored Shane Victorino but seemed to get out of the inning without further damage when Hanley Ramirez hit a groundball to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman, on the ground trying to keep the ball on the infield, gained control of the ball and tagged Gonzalez as Gonzalez hurdled him for the third out.
However on the appeal, the umpires ruled that Kemp crossed home plate before Gonzalez was tagged out to give the Dodgers another three-run inning. Replays showed that Kemp had not crossed the plate before the tag was made, but with a 6-0 lead it turned out the Dodgers needed every one of those runs.
Josh Beckett was having a game of the season giving up only two hits and making only 68 pitches through seven innings. Then everything exploded. Michael Morse led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a home run, and the Nats were off to the races. Ian Desmond singled, Steve Lombardozzi hit a two-run homer, Jesus Flores grounded out and Corey Brown reached on Gonzalez's first error as a Dodger.
The score was now 6-3 and Beckett responsible for the fourth run, though it would be earned if he scored. Randy Choate came in and gave up singles to Mark DeRosa and Bryce Harper to score Brown. It was now 6-4 Dodgers and Ronald Belisario in to pitch.
Belisario gave up a single to Danny Espinosa that loaded the bases, and after getting Tyler Moore to strike out gave up a single to Michael Morse that tied the game 6-6.
After 11 batters came to the plate for the Nats, the inning finally came to an end.
And it seemed this game would be an inevitable loss for the Dodgers. We could finally heap the dirt on their grave and move on with our lives.
But then the guy hitting .113 (6-for-53) since August 31 with only one homer and 17 strikeouts coming into this doubleheader made his mark: Matt Kemp hit a solo homer off of Tyler Clippard.
Matt Kemp who made that miraculous play during the St. Louis series that choked manager Don Mattingly up. Matt Kemp refused to let his team fall off of the cliff.
The Dodgers won 7-6 allowing them to stay two games behind the Cardinals for the second wild card. They are still looking down that cliff, but they haven't fallen yet.