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The Ringling Brothers in Town in Giants 7-5 Comeback Win

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Beanings, ejections, managerial mishaps and bullpen meltdowns. What started out as an easy Dodgers victory turned into a beanball showdown which turned into a complete circus sideshow. In the end a Dodger 5-1 lead after five innings and 5-4 lead in the ninth inning reversed into a Giants 7-5 win.

The two-hour long 1-0 pitchers’ duel that everyone envisioned in a Kershaw-Lincecum showdown didn’t materialize.

For one, Lincecum never looked comfortable. Exhibit A: in the second inning Lincecum lost the grip of his 0-1 pitch to Casey Blake leading off the inning sending the ball soaring straight above in the air before landing 20 feet away from the mound.

The Dodgers are never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so they took advantage right away.

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After Rafael Furcal walked on four pitches to lead off the first and stole second during Xavier Paul’s at-bat, he came home on Paul’s double for the quick 1-0 lead. Andre Ethier then pounded a 1-2 pitch 415 feet into the right field box seats just inside the foul pole to give the Dodgers the 3-0 lead.

The Dodgers added two more in the third inning when Blake DeWitt singled home Paul and Blake doubled home Ethier for the 5-1 lead. Blake’s two hits off Lincecum broke his 0-for-10 record, one of the reasons he was batting seventh in the lineup.

While Kershaw was good, the Giants capitalized on some luck and gifts in the sixth inning to get to a 5-4 deficit. After Andres Torres flied out to left, Freddy Sanchez and Buster Posey hit back-to-back singles off of Clayton Kershaw. Posey’s broken bat single that looped into shallow right field extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

The gift came when Pat Burrell hit a long fly ball that left fielder Xavier Paul got in his glove right at the left field wall. However when he squeezed it the ball fluttered down to the warning track: E7. That scored Sanchez and allowed Posey to take third base and Burrell second. Pablo Sandoval hit a bases clearing double to make it a 5-4 game.

“I just dropped the ball,” Paul said about his error. “I just feel horrible.”

Now cue in the circus music.

For too long the supposed rivalry between the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have been comparable to a Kansas City Royals-Baltimore Orioles matchup. For one night the animosity returned resulting in three hit batters and three ejections in the Dodgers 5-4 victory.

Dodgers’ starter Clayton Kershaw got leadoff hitter Andres Torres on the hands in the first inning to start the proceedings off. Retaliatory or not, in the fifth inning Matt Kemp was hit by Giants’ starter Tim Lincecum which brought warnings to both benches by home plate umpire Adrian Johnson. Torre thought this was in retaliation of Vicente Padilla hitting Aaron Rowand in the fifth inning on April 16 at Dodger Stadium this season sending Rowand to the disabled list missing 13 games.

“My guess would be yes it did,” Torre said when asked about this.

And that set the stage for the theatrics that ensued.

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In the sixth inning Martin complained to Johnson on a pitch that got in a little too close for comfort by Giants’ reliever Denny Bautista. A normally staid bench coach Bob Schaefer stormed out of the Dodgers’ dugout confronting Johnson and was ejected in the process.

“They didn’t look upon that as being on purpose,” Torre said. “It’s a very gray area that seems to have some flaws in it, but I don’t know how you fix it.”

Things went up one notch further in the top of the seventh when Kershaw hit Aaron Rowand with the first pitch getting himself and manager Joe Torre ejected from the ballgame.

“In the old days this would have been protecting your own,” Torre said. “I have no problem with Clayton Kershaw. He’s a good teammate for all of these guys aside from the ability.”

With Torre out of the game, that left hitting coach and manager heir-apparent Don Mattingly the head of the charges.

Still clinging on to a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth, Mattingly sent out closer Jonathan Broxton who had told the coaching staff he was prepared for the game.

“Brox told us before the game that he was fine,” Torre said.

After Broxton intentionally walked pinch hitter Aubrey Huff to load the bases, Mattingly went to the mound to discuss defensive strategies with the infield. Taking a step off the mound, first baseman James Loney asked Mattingly about the exact position he should be in and Mattingly went back to the mound.

“I really didn’t realize I was off the dirt,” Mattingly said. “Obviously I was.”

That made it two charged visits to the mound requiring a pitching change.

“I kind of had a feeling because Adrian [Johnson, home plate umpire] was yelling, ‘No, no, no. You can’t go back,” as I turned to talk to James [Loney],” Mattingly said.

Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt decided to bring in Sherrill. First base umpire and crew chief Tim McClelland told Mattingly that Sherrill would get an unlimited amount of pitches to warm up with despite rules limiting him to eight.

“I asked Tim [McClelland], ‘Can [Sherrill] warm up,’” Mattingly said. “He says, ‘Yeah, I won’t do that to him. I’m not going to take a chance on a guy getting hurt.’”

Home plate umpire Johnson gave Sherrill only eight creating confusion.

“Supposedly they told [Mattingly] that I had as many as wanted,” Sherrill said. “But nobody let me know that, and the [home plate] umpire sure as hell wasn’t giving them to me.”

“I was talking to [Honeycutt] not really realizing how many throws he was getting,” Mattingly said.

Nonetheless, Sherrill gave up a double to Torres giving the Giants a 6-5 lead. Travis Schlichting came in and gave up an RBI single to Posey that gave sealed the deal.

The Dodgers will to salvage the final game of the series while this writer will try and snort as much heroin as he can find while driving back to San Pedro.

Updated: In a comment to section 8.06 of the MLB Official rules

In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a base runner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game. The manager should be notified that his pitcher will be removed from the game after he pitches to one hitter, so he can have a substitute pitcher warmed up.

That is, Mattingly should have been ejected, Broxton should have pitched to Torres before either Sherrill or Schlichting came in to pitch to Sanchez. I'll have more on this tomorrow.