Dodgers Reach .500
It turned out to be home sweet home for the Dodgers as they opened their six-game homestand with a 7-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers are officially a mediocre team with an 11-11 record.
"Happy to be home," Dodger manager Don Mattingly said before the game. By all accounts the 3-3 road trip they just completed was mediocre at best, but when you consider they were swept in a day-night doubleheader by Baltimore to lead things off, you can see why they are breathing a sigh of relief.
After losing six straight, the Dodgers came back to win three of the next four games to inch back closer to .500.
"When you're going through it, it's hard," Mattingly said. "It mentally drains you."
The Dodgers looked anything but drained tonight. Despite giving up an early lead, the Dodgers fought back in the late innings to get the win.
"That was fun," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers quickly got out to a 2-0 lead, a two-out single by Andre Ethier scoring Mark Ellis in the first inning and a solo homer by Carl Crawford on a changeup left out over the plate by Brewers starter Hiram Burgos in the third inning.
Josh Beckett was breezing through a no-hitter until the fourth inning when Ryan Braun turned on an outside fastball for an opposite-field home run.
"I felt good especially in the beginning," Beckett said. "I had a lot of energy. I left a couple of pitches up."
The one pitch that got on Beckett's nerve was the pitch he made in the fifth inning to Jean Segura that scored Alex Gonzalez to give the Brewers the 3-2 lead. Yuniesky Betancourt led off the inning with a solo homer to tie the game.
"That stuck with me," Beckett commented.
Beckett didn't care that he didn't get the win, that he allowed three runs, that he gave up two home runs. "I don't have an arbitration case to win at the end of the year, so I'm not too worried about that," Beckett deadpanned. "As long as we win.
"I'm just nice to be standing here talk to you guys after a win. That's something I haven't gotten a chance to do yet this year."
What a mensch.
With the game tied 3-3 in the top of the seventh inning Norichika Aoki hit a one-out single up the middle with Alex Gonzalez on second base. What seemed like a routine play for Matt Kemp instead was a ball that bounced away and past him dribbling towards the warning track into the waiting glove of Andre Ethier. Gonzalez scored, and Aoki ended up on third base.
The Brewers then put "suicide" in suicide squeeze, Jean Segura missing the bunt as Aoki broke to the plate in the role of dead fish. Segura struck out to end the inning.
Proving center field is tough to play, the Brewers returned the favor in the bottom of the inning. With Nick Punto and Justin Sellers on first and second with two outs, Adrian Gonzalez hit a fly ball to straightaway center field that looked to be headed straight into the glove of Carlos Gomez. Instead the glove bounced off Gomez's forearm, and instead of the Dodgers headed to the dugout with their heads hung in disappointment the dugout was cheering with the two runs that scored.
"When I hit it, I was like I hope it's over his head," Gonzalez said. "After a couple of steps I realized he was playing pretty far in."
The Dodgers scored thrice more in the eighth inning giving cushion for closer Brandon League who did cede a run in the ninth.
Mattingly continued his mantra. "I know I've said it a lot, but when you keep getting guys out there things are going to go good for you," he said.
I joked about the Dodgers officially being mediocre. As NFL coaching legend Bill Parcells said, you are what your record is. However when I imagined what the Dodger offense could look like, this was essentially what I had in mind. A little more power would be nice, but how can you quibble when the Dodgers put up seven runs on the board?
This isn't to say that the Dodgers should score seven runs in every game. But an offense that keeps putting pressure on the opposition is crucial for the Dodgers, especially as they try to get over injuries to their starting rotation.
Speaking of more injuries, Mark Ellis left the game in the fifth inning after trying to beat out a grounder to the pitcher. He pulled up as he was approaching the bag with a strained right quadricep and will have an MRI done tomorrow. Of course none of us can forget the fasciotomy he underwent last season to relieve pressure in his lower left leg for fear of having to undergo an amputation. Fortunately it doesn't appear to be that serious.