Hey, remember earlier today, when I said that James Loney had hit six of his last eight homers against Colorado? Well, let’s make that seven of nine after his game-tying blast with one out in the ninth against Rockie righty Rafael Betancourt.
Back to Loney in a second, because let’s not skip how we got to that point: Chad Billingsley staked the Rockies to a 4-0 lead, allowing 10 hits in six innings (including a Troy Tulowitzki dinger) in his continuing quest to confound us by throwing out starts that don’t seem to be effective yet add up to one of the better pitchers in the league. The Dodgers fought back to take the lead with five runs in the sixth, partially on five hits but also in part due to errors by catcher Chris Iannetta and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. (By the way, since Andre Ethier was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Casey Blake‘s double, that meant that both hitting outs were made by Trent Oeltjen, who popped out starting the inning hitting for Billingsley, and struck out to end it.) Hong-Chih Kuo gave the lead back by allowing Tulowitzki’s second homer of the day, a two-run job in the seventh, and that’s how the Dodgers found themselves down 6-5 headed into the 9th, where Loney tied the game.
Thanks to 4.1 scoreless innings from Matt Guerrier, Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra, and Mike MacDougal (who got the win, because of course he did), 6-6 was the score through the bottom of the 11th. Loney was unable to single-handedly make the earth cave in upon itself by hitting a walkoff, but it didn’t matter: Matt Kemp took up the slack by crushing a Jason Hammel pitch into the nearly empty bleachers for his 31st homer of the year and 100th RBI. MVP? MVP.
But back to Loney. I’ve been making jokes about his performance against the Rockies for some time now, chalking most of it up to the Coors Field effect. Clearly, that doesn’t hold water anymore; the last two have come at home. He’s now hit just two homers in the last 362 days that didn’t come against Colorado. The Dodgers finish off the series against the Rockies with Nathan Eovaldi against Jhoulys Chacin tomorrow, before welcoming San Diego into town. Has Loney really turned some kind of corner? Or will he turn back into a pumpkin as soon as Jim Tracy and crew leave town? More importantly, is this going to convince Ned Colletti to tender him a contract after the season? I still think it’s unlikely at the price he’d get in arbitration, but the last week or two has thrown some doubt into the conversation…