In a game that started so positively for the Dodgers, quickly morphed into what we have come to expect…a lot of strikeouts, inability to create runs, and questionable player changes during the game. But it was all a prelude to what may go down as the THE GAME to take the team to a WS Championship.
I always like it when the leadoff hitter gets on base. After a CT3 walk to open the home half of the first inning, a fielder’s choice, hit batter, and pop up, that brought up many fan’s favorite punching bag, Brian Dozier, with a runner on 2B and 2 outs. As Dodgerrick pointed out yesterday, after a year of an apparent inability to hit WRISP, why should we fans expect anything but another strikeout? But Brian Dozier surprised all and promptly lined a 2-0 single into left field for the first run of the game.
But that is where the offense ended…. until the 13thinning. The Dodgers got a whiff of a rally in the 2ndinning after an infield single (Puig), walk (Barnes), failed sac bunt attempt (Hill), strikeout #1 of the inning (CT3), and another walk (JT) to load the bases. Then a very curious personnel decision followed by bringing in Max Muncy to bat for David Freese. It is clear that Freese handles LHP better than RHP, but it is not like he is chopped liver against RHP. In 2018, with 157 PA, Freese batted .273/.331/.455/.786 against RHP, and is batting .265/.337/.397/.734 against RHP over his career. He actually had 2 more PA against RHP than LHP, so he is more than a platoon player (or should be). Sure enough, as if on cue, Max strikes out to end the threat. What was that, 0 for 3 WRISP in one inning?
While the Dodgers were continuing to strikeout, Rich Hill was seemingly sailing along until the 5th. With a one out Arcia single that just went off Dozier’s glove into CF, Domingo Santana came in to PH for Freddie Peralta. Rich Hill fooled Santana with 2 curve ball strikes, before he tried to sneak another by him. But Santana was not watching the Dodger hitters swinging for the fences. Instead he stayed back and did not try to do too much with a good pitch and drives a double into right-center field to score the speedy Arcia from 1stto knot the score at 1 apiece. Good pitch, better hitting.
The Dodgers got the leadoff man on base in the 6th, 7th, and 8thinning and left them all stranded. But it was the 8thagainst Josh Hader that seemed to sting a little. After a leadoff single by Muncy, a strikeout, a force out fielder’s choice on a hard-hit ground ball by Dozier, aVERY COLDCody Bellinger came to the plate. Bellinger had looked lost at the plate in the playoffs, but against LHP Josh Hader, Bellinger punched a single into LF against the shift and put Dozier on 3rdbase to bring up Matt Kemp, who singled off Hader earlier in the series. Unfortunately, Kemp seemed over-powered in this AB and struck out on a couple of high fast ball pitches.
Kenley Jansen enters the 9thin a 1-1 tie and faces Jonathan Schoop to open. On a soft ground ball out in front of the base, the big man got off the mound, got the ball, and made a great throw to 1B to get Schoop by half a step. It was a fantastic defensive play. Jansen gets through the 10th, but not before Cody Bellinger made the defensive play of the playoffs on a sinking liner off the bat of Lorenzo Cain. If Belli does not get that liner, LoCain probably ends up at 3rdwith nobody and Christian Yelich, Ryan Braun, and Jesus Aguilar coming to the plate. But Belli did catch it, and single had no impact.
Alex Wood and Dylan Floro followed Jansen in the 11thand 12thwith no Brewers reaching base. Dodger batters did not do any better against Junior Guerra. Now instead of Scott Alexander, Doc had to bring in Julio Urias, and the young left-hander proceeded to get out of the 13thunscathed. He did allow a Ryan Braun single, and a long fly out to CF off the bat of Jesus Aguilar, before he struck out Mike Moustakas. Moose looked over-matched in that AB.
That brought us to the bottom of the 13thand some big time heroics. With one out, Machado hits a line drive single into LF. After a pop foul out by Dozier, Cody Bellinger came to the plate. Machado made a great read on a pitch in the dirt that got away from Kratz, and moved into scoring position with two out. Now we are used to just stranding another RISP, but this time, CODY hits the ball hard into RF and Machado came around to score to send the good guys home with a victory to tie the series at 2 games apiece.
I do not want to dismiss another defensive gem by CT3 in the 7th. With Pina on 2ndwith no outs, Orlando Arcia hits a little fly ball into no man’s land between CT3, Belli, and Machado, and somehow CT3 comes flying in and going into a slide to avoid Belli and Machado and make the catch. I do not think it is too much to say that CT3’s gem saved the game.
Another thought…was the Belli punch single into LF in the 8thoff Hader the prelude and confidence builder for Belli in the 13th?
The Bellinger hit was not a Gibson moment, but it was pretty darn close (maybe more current). And now “Big Mo” is on the side of the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw taking the ball today in an afternoon game. Kershaw had a bad Game 2, but I cannot remember him having two bad games in the same series, so I expect Kershaw to have a great game today. After the game, The MLB boys were calling today’s game the most important in Kershaw’s career. That is a little hyperbole (okay maybe a lot), but it is an important game to put a more positive spin on his post season HOF career legacy.
GO KERSHAW…GO BLUE. AND KEEP GOING CODY.