|(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press / April 21, 2014)|
Let's begin by saying the Dodgers have not been living up to the 2014 hype yet, to say the least. Every game these days seems to be a grinder. If we fans feel like we've been through a shredder after the game, I'm sure the players themselves feel like they were in a machete fight.
Tonight was more of the same. We were easily winning 7-3 and feeling fully pumped up after a MASSIVE 3-run bomb off the bat of Puig. It was the kind of shots they hit for show at the All-Star Home Run Derby. Happy head slaps and puffy chests were seen up and down the dugout.
Then Brian Wilson (about to become a new member of The Maligned), immediately coughed up the lead and had to be pulled off the mound by Mattingly before our 7-6 lead became a 22-7 hole. The rest of the bullpen couldn't hold them back and the Marlins forced the game into a tie and extra innings.
The last thing the Dodgers needed was yet ANOTHER extra inning marathon, but it looked and felt like we were about to thrash around for 16 innings and then lose in heartbreaking fashion. A lesser team would have wilted into that role and acquiesced. They had just slept-walked through an uninspired loss yesterday - would they mentally switch it off again?
But that wasn't happening tonight. Even Mattingly (much maligned by little ol' me) fired up his team in the top of the 10th with a legitimate and loudly-barked argument with the plate umpire.
The umpiring crew must have been sensitive over losing so many instant replay challenges that they wouldn't even check a pitched ball for a dirt scuff. Mattingly was right about dirt being on the ball - and the umps probably knew they would lose face again - so out of pettiness they wouldn't give the Dodgers the satisfaction of an on-field inspection of a ball in play, like they're paid to do.
Mattingly lost the battle, but in the end, it was a great managerial play because he showed his team he was ready to fight and scratch for every pitch. His play set the stage for the win.
Juan Uribe (ex-Maligned) opened the top of the 11th with a walk, and up stepped Carl Crawford (Maligned). Crawford manned up and crushed a huuuuuge 2-run blast, the ball bouncing forcefully off of the concrete separating the upper and lower levels. The Dodgers went back ahead 9-7.
Then Flash Gorden Jr. (ex-Maligned) came up. BASE HIT! Tonight was the first ever five-hit game in his career. He also stole three bases. He's the first Dodger to do that since 1914.
Do you know who's leading the leagues in stolen bases? I'll save you the trouble of looking it up. It's Dee Fricken' Gordon.
Could another member of The Maligned on the squad step up and cement the win? While our big 8th and 9th inning guys have been a real cardiac squad lately, Brandon League has been quietly settling into a good pitching groove. League pitched a quick and easy three up, three down, bottom of the 11th and sent the Fish back into the sea.
Tonight showed the team it's not just El Jaguar and Puig, Grienke and Ryu. Tonight's win, our not-able-to-watch-on-TV-audience - was brought to you by The Maligned.