The Dodgers Pull Out an Incredible Comeback
Dodger Stadium has seen soccer, ski-jumping, boxing, supercross, basketball. It's seen Madonna, Elton John, KISS, Depeche Mode and the Cure among other bands and musicians. It's even seen the Pope.
Thus it's a big occasion when the stadium hosts the Tampa Bay Rays for the very first time — the last active Major League holdout. But then you see what the Dodgers accomplished in this game, you just sit back, jaw agape and wonder what exactly you witnessed.
For context, at the seventh inning stretch the Dodgers trailed the Rays 6-0 with David Price on the mound.
To that point the Dodgers mustered only six hits against Price. Since coming off of the disabled list on July 2, Price came into the game with a 1.57 ERA in seven starts only allowing a .189 batting average to opponents while walking only one batter.
"He's as good of a pitcher that we've faced this season," Jerry Hairston said.
"We didn't do much against him," Skip Schumaker said.
That's why when Price led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a four-pitch walk to Hairston, the tone of the game changed. At 86 pitches it was starting to look like the end of his night was imminent. Schumaker doubled off of Price which scored Hairston, and the Dodgers got their foot in the door trailing 6-1.
Then it was on to the bullpen in the eighth innning. A combination of Jake McGee, Josh Lueke and Joel Peralta gave up two runs to the Dodgers creating even more intrigue. The Dodgers now just trailed 6-3.
Then the ninth inning with closer Fernando Rodney.
- Skip Schumaker singled to left-center.
- Pinch hitter Dee Gordon struck out swinging.
- Mark Ellis lined a ball to left field that got past a diving Ben Zobrist for a triple scoring Schumaker.
- Nick Punto lined a ball just fair into left field for a double that scored Ellis. The Dodgers trailed 6-5 and had the tying run in scoring position.
- Adrian Gonzalez golfed a line drive to right field that just hit into fair territory. Punto scored and the Dodgers tied the game at 6-6.
- Yasiel Puig intentionally walked, something they probably should have done in the eighth inning. But you know, hindsight...
- Jerry Hairston grounded back to Rodney, a sure double play ball. Instead Rodney threw the ball into centerfield. Gonzalez scored.
"And the magic is here even at home," Vin Scully exclaimed on the broadcast as the Dodgers took the improbable 7-6 win.
There is magic and mystique blanketing the Dodgers these last six weeks. The Dodgers improved to 35-8 in their last 43 games, their best since 1953. Everything the Dodgers touch seem to turn to gold. Down 6-0 while staring down one of the more dominant pitchers in the league on the mound, there was no hint of a win.
"You don't like your chances," manager Don Mattingly admitted. "But what we've been able to recently everything seems to be working out."
"We did everything we could to win that game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Give them credit."
The Dodgers just completed winning three of four games in St. Louis proving they are a very good team. In this first game against the AL East contending Rays, it looked evident that the Dodgers landed at the airport at 2:30 this morning.
The fun started in the second inning:
- Jerry Hairston lost Wil Myers' fly ball to left field. The ball dropped about ten feet towards centerfield. It was ruled a single.
- Shortstop Nick Punto misplayed Ben Zobrist's grounder. Ruled an error.
- Yunel Escobar lined a single up the middle that scored Myers and sent Zobrist to third. Yasiel Puig tried to cut off Myers at home ill-advisedly. Escobar advanced to second.
- James Loney lined a single up the middle that scored Zobrist and Escobar. Again, Puig tried to cut off Escobar at the plate. Loney advanced to second.
"Sometimes it's a tough at twilight to read the ball once it's way up in the air," Hairston admitted.
Starting pitcher Chris Capuano was able to get out of the inning getting Jose Molina, David Price and Sean Rodriguez to ground out, however the Rays had the 3-0 lead.
The fifth inning was Capuano's own doing. A leadoff single to Sean Rodriguez and a one-out double to Evan Longoria, it was thought intentionally walking Myers to load the bases was a good idea. Unforunately Capuano gave up singles to Zobrist and Escobar that gave Tampa the 6-0 lead.
Capuano was pulled after Escobar's single, and he took it out on a bucket of water sitting on the bench. As Eric Stephen of True Blue LA noted, this marks the ninth straight start he has given up either five earned runs or no earned runs.
"I felt like I threw the ball pretty good until the fifth inning when I kind of left a few over the plate," Capuano said still smiling from the comeback win despite his not-so-stellar outing.
Still absent were Matt Kemp (left ankle) and Hanley Ramirez (right shoulder) from the lineup. Kemp started running supervised by Stan Conte but gave no indication when he would be back in the lineup. "I have no timetable," Kemp said. "I'll know when I'm ready. Hopefully the sooner the better."
"Matt looks pretty good," Mattingly said sounding optimistic. "He looked a lot better. He's going in the right direction."
Ramirez tested his shoulder with live batting practice in the cages before the game. "I'm going to hit today and see if it feels good," Ramirez said. Evidently he felt good enough to be used as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. He struck out.
"We'll have him pinch hit tomorrow," Mattingly said acknowledging that Ramirez probably thinks he could play tomorrow.
If this game didn't make believers of the doubters, I don't know what else will.