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Ethier Does It Again
Pittsburgh Pirates All Star pitcher Zach Duke was wheelin’ and dealin’ like Frank Dux trying to salvage what was left of the Pirates’ season with a victory against the Dodgers. However it was the Dodgers who had the final say with their Chong Li laugh beating the Pirates 5-4 in 13 innings.
And it was all thanks to right fielder Andre Ethier. Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the 13th inning with shortstop Rafael Furcal on first with one out, Ethier crushed his fourth walk-off homer of the season to send the remnants of the 52,562 fans nuts. Again.
“As Yogi would say, ‘It’s déjà vu all over again,” manager Joe Torre said of Ethier’s walk off. “You’ve seen him do it, you want to visualize it, and when he does it it’s just surreal.”
“It’s awesome,” Dodgers starter Randy Wolf commented. However when asked if he’s ever asked Ethier about how he does it Wolf responded, “We try not to talk to Andre.”
“There’re two results,” Ethier said of stepping in the batter’s box with a chance to win the game. “Either you get out or you get the job done. The game simplifies there in the late innings.”
“I was looking for a good pitch to hit,” Ethier described the at-bat. “I was pretty sure what they wanted to do the way Duke made me look there at the beginning of the game.”
Duke made everyone look bad. Not being a power pitcher, he used the guile of his curve balls and off speed pitches to jab the Dodgers bloody on the Kumite floor.
In fact Duke was pitching a perfect game until catcher Russell Martin with one out in the fourth inning lined a double down the right field line. Duke got Ethier to strike out and left fielder Manny Ramirez to ground to third to end the threat.
“I took some healthy hacks but didn’t put too many quality balls in play off of him,” Ethier commented. “He had some great stuff working there tonight.”
But the Dodgers refused to say, “Matte”.
It would not take long for the Dodgers to strike back. In the fifth inning Kemp led off with a double. Third baseman Casey Blake drove him home with a triple lined down the right field line and scored on first baseman Mark Loretta’s sacrifice fly to left cutting the Pirates lead to 3-2.
In the bottom of the ninth inning to give the boys a boost, the guys in the audio booth played Guns ‘n Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” which hasn’t been heard around these parts since a certain roided French-Canadian closer literally fell apart.
After Martin popped up a mile high to third, Ethier lined a double down the right field corner sliding in safely at second just in front of the throw.
With that, all 52,562 people stood cheering on Manny Ramirez exhorting him to bring home the victory. Manny responded by blooping a 2-2 pitch to first for the second out.
[insert more groans]
Now it was Matt Kemp’s at-bat, but something was taken out of the crowd during the Manny at-bat. The crowd was a bit more subdued despite everyone standing. The filler music had to be used to try and whip the crowd into a frenzy though never quite succeeding.
Finally on the 2-1 pitch it happened. Kemp blistered a single to send the crowd over the edge and Ethier across home plate.
The Dodgers had finally tied the game.
However the euphoria would not last. In the 13th inning the Dodgers started to get sloppy with Blake making a throwing error to first base on center fielder Andrew McCutchen’s grounder. Third baseman Andy LaRoche would sacrifice McCutchen over to second. Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario intentionally walked right fielder Garrett Jones hoping for a force.
Unfortunately the only force was catcher Ryan Doumit’s single which scored McCutchen giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead.
But you know how this ends.
Not only is this the fourth walk off homer for Ethier, it's his sixth walk off hit and 30th home run of the season. The 30 home runs is the most since Adrian Beltre smacked 48 in 2004. Also Ethier's ninth inning double gives him 40 this season, the first Dodger to do so since Shawn Green hit 49 in 2003.