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The Best Laid Plans for the Dodgers Go Awry
One of Vin Scully's favorite aphorisms to quote during games originally comes from a Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse" written in 1785: "The best laid plans of mice and men..." The Dodgers 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night best illustrated this.
With all apologies to Scully, the full stanza as translated from Scots goes as follows:
But little Mouse, you are not alone, In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!
Take the ninth inning. With the score tied 3-3, Martin Prado kept fouling off pitches from Javy Guerra in the ninth inning with Tyler Pastornicky on second base and two outs. On the seventh pitch Prado took a high fastball and drove it to centerfield that was just out of the grasp of Matt Kemp. Pastornicky broke the tie, and Prado slid in safely at third base for a triple. The Atlanta Braves had the 4-3 lead and last year's rookie of the year closer Craig Kimbrel on board to close out the game.
"I've definitely got to execute there," Guerra said. "The count is in my favor. I've to put him away there."
Perhaps the most painful part was seeing Juan Rivera pulling up short as he ran to first base on a single in the sixth inning. He left the game with a left hamstring strain and was replaced with James Loney.
"Right now it sounds like they're saying a hamstring attachment, but it's really low right above the knee," Manager Don Mattingly said. "We'll know a lot more tomorrow."
It's was a disappointing end to a great game for Rivera. In the first inning with Mark Ellis on first and Kemp just having flown out to right field, Rivera crushed a homer that just trickled inside the left foul pole to give the Dodgers the early 2-0 lead. The 437-foot homer was only the 20th loge level homer hit in Dodger Stadium's 50-year history.
And with the leather, perhaps more impressively, was the play Rivera made on Prado's grounder in the third inning. Tuesday night marked only the 57th game of 830 that Rivera played at first base, so all that is really expected is merely catching the ball. But Rivera surpassed that expectation diving to his right to nab the grounder, jump up and run to record the out unassisted at first base.
"I don't know how to categorize it at this point," Mattingly continued about the injury. "He can either come in bad, or he can come in feeling pretty good."
Rivera is officially listed as day-to-day (aren't we all, as Scully also likes to amend.)
Meanwhile Dodgers' starter Aaron Harang had his own adventures. After giving up a leadoff double to Michael Bourne to start the game he retired 12 of the next 13 batters through four innings.
Harang said the turning point was the first pitch he saw from Brave's starter Mike Minor that he fouled off his left foot.
"My foot was swelling up a little bit in my shoe," Harang said. "We did some cold spray on it. I think it was a matter of compensating for it, trying to make adjustments to ease the pressure of landing — of course it was my landing foot."
The adjustments finally got to Harang in the fifth inning when the birthday boy Chipper Jones toasted his own 40th birthday with a leadoff homer to the right field bullpen to cut the Dodger lead to 2-1.
"His swing is still pretty, isn't it," Mattingly mused.
Jason Heyward scored later in the inning on Prado's ground out to tie the game. And in the sixth inning with runners on the corners, a wild pitch to Pastornicky, who went 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, sent Brian McCann home for the go-ahead run.
X-rays were taken after Harang came off the field in the sixth inning and were negative. Harang did not anticipate the foot being a lingering problem.
The Dodgers got the run back in the bottom half of the inning when Kemp hit into a fielders' choice with runners on first and second. But the best laid plans... Kemp took a step to second base and was tagged by first baseman Freddie Freeman. Though initially called safe by first base umpire Alan Porter, an umpires' conference correctly rendered Kemp out.
"Yeah, he took a step," Mattingly conceded.
Not everything was bad for the 44,014 fans who showed up for the first Dodgers' home loss. They got their "sleeved blanket" which was useful on a night like this.
For the Dodgers there was some grief and pain as a result of this game, but there is a tomorrow.
"It's going to be the team that gets the big hit, makes the big play, makes the pitch when they need it that's going to win these games," Mattingly said. "Tonight they got the big hit when they needed it late.
"It's going to be up to us to make the play, make the pitch, get the hit."