Kershaw Can’t Survive Wild Stretch

Cardinals Dodgers BaseballTo say the opening game between the Dodgers and Phillies last night was exciting, would be a stretch, it was a close game, ending at 8-6 Philadelphia, but it was over four hours long.  LA hurlers walked seven batters, coincidentally they were the only Dodger pitchers that were scored upon.

James Loney took Cole Hamels deep to give the Dodgers an early 1-0 lead.  Surprisingly Clayton Kershaw was rolling along, pitching almost exclusively from the windup.  Shane Victorino picked up a first inning single, Chase Utley lined out hard to CF, but then Kershaw picked off Victorino with Ryan Howard at the plate, SHANE, where were you going?  With one out in the 3rd Carlos Ruiz walks, then is bunted to 2nd by Hamels, allowing Clayton to return to the windup, from which he got the third out of the inning.  In the 4th the young Dodger lefty walks Howard after retiring the first two hitters on popups, Jayson Werth hits the ball on the nose, but it’s hauled in by Manny Ramirez.  A sign of things to come.

Then comes the 5th inning, Raul Ibanez (or as Craig Segar would call him E-BEENEZ) rips a line drive single to left, Kershaw can’t find the strike zone with his curve out of the stretch, bounces a wild pitch, and ends up walking Pedro Feliz.  Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt comes out to talk to Kershaw, I don’t know what he told Clayton, but almost before Rick was back in the dugout after delivering his sage advice, Carlos Ruiz sat on a fastball and rode it over the leftfield wall for a three run jack.  But the inning wasn’t over, in fact nobody was out.  Still the announcers babbled on about how this was a tough decision for Joe Torre because Kershaw was due to bat 2nd in the bottom of the inning, I didn’t get it, did he have to get tattooed a little more before being lifted from the game?  The pitcher Cole Hamels walks, this kid was done with a capital D, but then he induced Jimmy Rollins to hit into a fielder’s choice, struckout Victorino on a wild pitch sending JRoll to 2nd, threw his 3rd wild pitch of the inning (all on breaking balls) sending Rollins to 3rd, and walking Utley.

Here is where it gets REALLY crazy!  The announcers say, this is a growing up moment, as Joe Torre is leaves Kershaw in the game to face Howard.  He was done after he walked Hamels!  After Ryan lines a two run double into the corner, Ramon Troncoso is brought in to get Werth.  The Dodgers were down 5-1 heading into the home half of the fifth and it looked like the game might be over.

LA had runners at the corners with one out when Andre Ethier hit a tailor made double play grounder to short, Utley threw the relay throw away after Rollins gave him a late feed when he couldn’t get the ball out of his glove.  So instead of an inning ending DP, with Manny leading off for the Dodgers in the 6th, Ramirez would bat in the 5th with 2 outs, a run in, and a runner on secondbase.  Pitcher Cole Hamels was visibly upset, the Phillies sent a coach to the mound to settle him down.  I don’t know what the coaches tell their pitchers, but you guessed it, MANNY BEING MANNY turned on one, putting LA back into the game.

Dodger relievers Ronald Bellisario & Hong-Chih Kuo held the Phillies in check in the 6th & 7th, while Chad Durbin & J.A. Happ (a rookie of the year candidate, but not quite ready as a prime time pitcher) each worked one third of an inning to close out a very shaky 6th, Durbin came on to get the Russell Martin for the 2nd out of the inning, after Loney & Ronnie Belliard had singled off Hamels, to send Cole to the showers.  Happ lost pinch hitter Jim Thome on ball four to fill the bases, it’s a good thing a pitching coach didn’t go out there to talk with J.A.  Then a bizarre incident occurred in which Joe Torre wanted to send in a pinch runner for Thome, however we all had to wait while Randy Wolf got on his shoes, thus freezing Happ.  Rafael Furcal grounded out to Utley to end the threat.

In the bottom of the 7th Antanio Bastardo (what a Bastard-Oh) allows a leadoff double to Andre Ethier (what was Antonio even doing in the game, on the roster?) and is replaced by veteran Chan Ho Park.  Chan Ho gets Ramirez, Matt Kemp, & Casey Blake to earn a well deserved hold.

Former closer, lefthander, George Sherrill was brought on to face the Phils in the top of the 8th in a one run game, sometimes closers do better in save situations.  Rick Honeycutt again comes out to talk with his pitcher after Sherrill walks the first two batters he’s faced, you guessed it, on the very first pitch to Raul Ibanez, he launches a three run blast, again seemingly putting this game on ice.

Ryan Madson, alot of the talking heads thought he should be the team’s closer, was brought on to throw a little batting practice in the 8th inning, and make the game a little interesting.  There was a coaching visit to the mound after Loney & Belliard opened with base knocks, but Martin only produced a run scoring single, rather than a three run dinger, what a bum!  Pinch hitter Juan Pierre hits a comebacker, which Madson fires to Utley to get the first out of the inning, leaving runners at 1st & 3rd.  After Furcal’s sac fly to Werth in right, Ethier kept the inning alive with a single to right, Ryan got Manny on a grounder to third to end the inning.  Phillies fans let out a huge sigh of relief.

But before Philadelphia fans could relax too much, it was the 9th inning, and Brad Lidge time.  I remember Lidge fondly from the 2005 World Series, where the White Sox beat him twice, no saves, with a 4.91 ERA, he was even worse for the Astros in the LCS versus the Cardinals, although he did save three games, he had a loss, and a 7.20 ERA.  Last season was magical for Brad & the Phillies, as he was a perfect 41 for 41 in saves during the regular season, with a 1.95 ERA, earning 7 more postseason saves in 2008.  What a difference a year makes, as he struggled all season long, a 7.21 ERA to go along with an 0-8 record, while converting only 31 of 42 save opportunities.  The ship seemed to have been righted in the LDS against the Rockies as he converted his only two save chances.

Kemp greeted Lidge with a hard basehit to left, then Blake tore the cover off the ball, but hit it right at Utley on the ground for an easy (once Chase fielded the hardhit ball) DP.  Loney walks, but Brad gets Belliard to pop to short to end the game with Loney on 2nd.

The Dodgers outhit the Phillies 14 to 8, but lost the game mainly because of wildness, maybe if they had started somebody else.  Everybody seems to be talking about Chad Billingsley, but he may be hurt, as he has not been throwing well.  Still what about Hiroki Kuroda or Vicente Padilla, or why was Jon Garland left off the playoff roster, out of the mix?  Veteran righthander Garland was 3-2 with a very nice 2.72 ERA for LA this season in six starts and was 1-0 in two starts for the White Sox in postseason play in 2005 with a 2.25 ERA over 16 innings pitched.  You might call it hindsight, but you are not going to win very many ballgames walking seven, Jon has walked under two batters per start for his career.

Dunno which was worse, this long drawn out game or listening to the three jackasses in the booth, headed by Chip Caray, fill airtime, talking nonsense.  Never thought I would say this, but were Tim McCarver & Hawk Harrelson busy?  Just kidding, but these guys are brutal, no insight at all!

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