On Friday the 13th, it was a cold, dreary, rainy night in Southern California, enough so that there was a real question about whether we’d see the first Dodger Stadium rainout in twelve years. With that kind of backdrop, you had to expect that we’d see something bizarre and… oh, you better believe that we did. And then some.
Here’s how out of control this game got, okay? This was my original opening paragraph:
Aaron Harang allowed a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin, and then proceeded to strike out each of the next nine batters. Aaron Effing Harang! The nine consecutive strikeouts topped Johnny Podres’ eight to set a new Dodger record and fell one short of tying Tom Seaver’s ten in a row for the big league record. Podres won some of the biggest games in franchise history. Seaver was a no-doubter Hall of Famer. Aaron Harang is Aaron Harang. Can’t predict baseball, indeed. Harang was touched in the fourth for three runs, including a Will Venable homer which broke the streak, but came back to whiff four more to tie his career high with 13 in his 6 1/3 innings of work. After a disappointing debut as a Dodger in the only loss of the season so far, it was an amazing turnaround for the veteran Harang.
Yet with everything that came after, that already feels like it was weeks ago, does it not?
Anyway, the Dodger offense would get itself going in the bottom of the third, thanks to the hustle of the law firm of Ellis & Ellis. With two outs, Justin Sellers at third, and A.J. Ellis at second, Mark Ellis bounced to second baseman Orlando Hudson. Though a tough play, it was a makable one, but Ellis flew down the line to beat the throw. That alone prevented the inning from ending as Sellers scored easily, but unbeknownst to everyone except third base coach Tim Wallach, A.J. Ellis never stopped running hard and scored from second on the infield hit, narrowing beating the throw from Yonder Alonso. After walks to Matt Kemp & Juan Rivera, Andre Ethier sent a broken-bat flare to center to score two, meaning the Dodgers had scored four runs in the inning on two hits that combined went about 150 feet.
Of course, none of that would have happened if not for Padre shortstop Jason Bartlett botching A.J. Ellis‘ grounder in the first place, which might have led to a scoreless inning since both of the two batters behind him made outs, and it’s here where we really have to point out just how atrociously bad the Padres have looked. They’ve committed the most errors in baseball – as this sequence shows, even one can lead to huge problems – and not to take anything away from Harang, but while he was obviously very good, he was hardly showing Stephen Strasburg-level stuff out there. As Eric Stephen noted, the Dodgers have scored six unearned runs off Clayton Richard alone this season, which is just absurd. If the Dodgers might be better than we thought – and it looks like they might be – the Padres also look like they’re going to be really, really bad this year. Everyone keeps saying things like, “oh, I wish the Dodgers could just play the Padres & Pirates all season;” I’m almost ready to say the opposite, because now I want to know how this club measures up against some real competition.
The Dodgers doubled their offense in the 4th on run-scoring hits by A.J. Ellis & Tony Gwynn before Matt Kemp blasted a massive homer, his third of the season. Though it seemed like gravy at the time, it became crucial once Todd Coffey & Scott Elbert tried to pitch the top of the seventh with both hands around their necks, slicing the lead to two. Josh Lindblom, proving once again how much he belongs on this team, pitched a scoreless eighth, before Kenley Jansen calmly shut down the Padres (with Javy Guerra unavailable) for his first save of the year…
…which is what I had written and ready to publish before Jansen had to go and give up a game-tying dinger to Chase Headley. We can talk about Jansen separately – though I have to admit I was somewhat shocked by the amount of vitriol towards him on Twitter, because how in the hell can you be anti-Jansen right now? – but he managed to escape with the tie intact.
And then Cashner fell apart. Mark Ellis walked. Kemp walked, his third of the game (and the season). Even James Loney walked, and James Loney is awful. With the bases loaded, Bud Black brought in lefty Joe Thatcher to face Andre Ethier.
Four pitches later, SHRIMP. And the Dodgers, improbably, are 7-1. What I would have given to have heard Vin Scully call what had to have been one of the most memorable games in years.
Oh, and Jansen got the win. Not Harang. Not Lindblom. Jansen. He’s 2-0. Wins are stupid.
But back to A.J. Ellis for a second. When he came to the plate in the fourth inning, I could hear through the PA system that his walkup song was off the new Foo Fighters record, which I totally dig. That alone was cool enough, because most guys come out to one of the same five indistinguishable hip-hop songs. Then I realized exactly which Foo Fighters song it was…
It’s called “Walk”. Of course it is. I love this man, and I was going to post this bit even before we saw how the game eventually ended.