Van Slyke Helps Dodgers Eclipse the Red Birds
It was the eclipse. That's the only explanation for how the Dodgers keep winning despite losing players left and right. Well at least the eclipse could be mythological excuse the Dodgers had Sunday night in their 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
There the Dodgers were with their backs against the wall trailing 5-3 in the seventh inning as the eclipse was beginning to end. Elian Herrera and Bobby Abreu hit back-to-back one-out singles starting a rally against reliever Victor Marte, but Andre Ethier struck out swinging. Instead of riding third baseman Adam Kennedy, Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly opted to throw in Scott Van Slyke in only his eighth Major League appearance.
Van Slyke held the bat on his shoulders for three pitches watching them fall outside the strike zone. On the fourth pitch with the green light, he swung.
"It seemed like the right thing to do," Mattingly said. "I sent him up there to hit."
Out the ball went into the left field pavilion giving the 6-5 lead.
"Not only hitting the home run, but having it mean something and helping the team win was a little more exciting than just the actual home run," Van Slyke said.
Right as the moon was blocking the sun in the fifth inning, the weirdness was starting to take hold. With Daniel Descalso on second with an out, Rafael Furcal hit a grounder to second base. However first baseman James Loney ran to his right to field the ball forcing pitcher Chad Billingsley to run to first to get the force out. Billingsley missed the tag getting the error.
"James has got to stay at home," Mattingly said. "He goes all the way to second base to try and get that ball. And that cost us an out right there."
Skip Schumaker tripled bringing home Descalso and Furcal, and a Carlos Beltran grounder brought in Schumaker for the three-run inning and the 3-2 Red Bird lead.
And even more weirdness ensued with bloop after bloop plaguing Billingsley in the sixth inning that brought in two more runs.
"It's just the way the game is," Billingsley said about his luck. "I can't do anything about it. You just continue to make pitches and it will go your way eventually."
While it's easy to use the eclipse as an answer for this game, the fact that this has been going on all throughout the homestand transcends that. Mattingly touched on it briefly after the game.
"We got a bunch of good at-bats tonight," Mattingly said.
There was Elian Herrera who went 3-for-4 scoring two runs. That made him 5-for-13 (.385 batting average) so far this season using the entire field. Even Ivan De Jesus coming off the bench to pinch hit scalded a line drive to left field. Unfortunately it was hit directly to Matt Holliday.
The Dodgers have been having really good at-bats lately that minimizes their reliance on the big bat, the big moment, the Matt Kemp moment which they do not have.
And it is this reason why they have the Major League-best 28-13 record despite a lineup filled with minor leaguers and players other teams have passed up. The Dodgers are now seven games ahead of the San Francisco Giants. They now follow the Kings and head to the desert for a three-night stand with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The bad: the Dodgers are 9-9 on the road. But with the temperature in Phoenix expected to be over 100 degrees, maybe the Dodgers will stay hot.