Just… wow. I mean, a special brand of “holy good god are you f-cking kidding me” wow, but still… wow.
I had written up an entire piece about how today’s game, a tightly played pitcher’s duel, couldn’t have been more of a polar opposite from Game 1′s cripplefight of wasted opportunities. Not to glaze over that, but let’s give credit to Clayton Kershaw for keeping the Dodgers in the game, skip right past Adam Wainwright’s dominating performance, and go right ahead to the HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT?! 9th inning… my word, that 9th inning.
Andre Ethier pops to second, and after Ryan Franklin enters, Manny Ramirez flies out. Up comes James Loney, 0-3 to this point. As Loney flies out weakly to left field for the third out, the Cardinals had managed to survive Los Angeles with a split. They’d be headed back to St. Louis tied, facing the questionable Vicente Padilla, and with momentum squarely in their favor.
it can’t be…
Holliday tries to catch the ball with his junk, and Loney’s safe on second, soon replaced by pinch runner Juan Pierre.
Casey Blake strides to the plate, and if anyone’s going to make a statement against Franklin, it’s going to be Blake, who had an absurd OPS of 1.275 in 14 at-bats. Blake, in a hard-fought nine pitch at-bat, draws the walk, putting the winning run on base for the continuously struggling Russell Martin.
So with two men on, the much-maligned Ronnie Belliard comes up, hitless today. First pitch? Line drive up the middle! Pierre scores! Tie game! Matt Holliday looking like he’s going to be sick in left field.
That by itself is a pretty nice gift, because with two outs and the horribly struggling Russell Martin next and mostly useless pinch hitter Mark Loretta afterwards, I was ready to settle in for extra innings. But then Yadier Molina’s passed ball advances Blake and Belliard to second and third. And then Franklin loses the plate, walking Martin to load the bases for Loretta.
I’ve been pretty critical of Loretta this year, with good reason I think. He’s been dreadful, and I didn’t even want him on the NLDS roster. Over at the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, where I was enjoying the game, I said this as Loretta came to the plate:
Dear Mark Loretta,
I’ve said nothing but bad things about you all year.
I keep calling you “the corpse of Mark Loretta”.
I didn’t want you on the NLDS roster.
Please make me eat my words.
Of course, Loretta singles up the middle for the game-winning hit, and he’s earned a “Get Out of Jail Free” card on this site until the end of time. You heard it here; I will never be critical of Mark Loretta again.
This is going to be one of those games that’s talked about, oh, I don’t know, forever, and I don’t feel like I’ve done it even the slightest bit of justice. This, friends, was a gift from the baseball gods, and sometimes – just sometimes – those are the teams that end up having an October to remember.
Up 2-0 headed back to St. Louis… with a chance to close out the series. Un…believable. God damn, do I love baseball sometimes.