Dodgers Run Run Run Run Run Run Run Away
The Dodgers have been living a Talking Heads song. Pick a lyric. Road to nowhere. Same as it ever was. Qu'est-ce que c'est. The Dodgers before the All Star Break were looking forward to the second half, hope brimming with the return of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to the lineup. In a particularly painful fashion, the Dodgers had lost four of the five games to open up the second half of the season.
But the Dodgers refused to get swept by the Philadelphia Phillies. Down to their last out, Matt Kemp hit a game-tying infield single in the 10th inning off of Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and barely made it to first base safely. Kemp then iced the game with a walk-off homer in the 12th inning for the 5-3 victory, his sixth walkoff home run in his career.
"It's always exciting to do that," Kemp commented. "A good time to do that at that moment."
Manager Don Mattingly was a little more loss for words. "I don't know what it says about us, but it's definitely a win we needed."
It was a pitchers' duel at Dodger Stadium with the battle between two left-handed Cy Young Award winners. Both Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee each pitched eight innings giving up a run.
After Kenley Jansen got out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth inning, Javy Guerra also had the bases loaded in the tenth. In his first start since being with his family after his father had a heart attack and open heart surgery, it looked like he would be pegged the losing pitcher after giving up a two-run single to Hunter Pence.
But the Dodgers charged back against Papelbon in the tenth, Luis Cruz leading off with a double and Bobby Abreu's pinch-hit single cutting the deficit to 3-2. After Tony Gwynn, Jr. singled to send Abreu to third base, Kemp drove his first run in since May 13 to tie the game.
"The big inning was getting to Papelbon to get us back in the game," Kershaw commented. "It's a sign of a good team."
And then, of course, that 419-foot homer that landed about nine rows up in the right-centerfield bleachers. "Monster-ish," as Mattingly described it.
"We needed a win," Kershaw said. "We'll take them any way we can."
With a 10-game road trip that takes them to the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, the question probably won't be which players they trade for by the deadline on July 31. Will the Dodgers even be contenders when they return on July 30?
"If you win today, you have a good road trip then you're on a roll," Mattingly ever the optimist told reporters before the game. "Then the season looks different. A week from now, this can look totally different.
"Then you're moving forward with a ton of games left still. No matter how it looks right now for us, it's a matter of putting a win on the board and getting the ball in our direction. Right now the momentum seems like it's going in the wrong direction for us."
It's too soon to tell which way the wind will be blowing for the Dodgers. One thing is for sure. If they keep falling further behind the Giants, we might soon be burning down the house. (Figuratively, not literally.)