Back End of Bench Helps Beats Mets & Umpires For Dodger Sweep

Come on, who among us didn’t think that today’s game was going to end with Matt Treanor, Luis Cruz, & Adam Kennedy driving in five runs in the twelfth inning, with Josh Wall getting the win by pitching the eleventh in his major league debut before certainly getting demoted? No one? Really? Come on, people. Open your minds a little.

That, believe it or not, is just the kind of day it was on a Sunday afternoon in Queens, as some shaky bullpen work on both sides and absolutely horrific umpiring turned what was a relatively quiet game into an extra-inning slopfest that ended with the first Dodger sweep of the Mets on the road since 2002.

Before we get to the fun, let’s remember what no one will remember: in some ways, today was the best start of Nathan Eovaldi‘s short career, tying his career-high in strikeouts with seven while allowing just one walk and one run, though he did give up seven hits. Considering that just three starts ago he allowed five earned runs without a single strikeout against this same Mets team, it was an encouraging step forward. Still, Eovaldi had already thrown 96 pitches after allowing Jordany Valdespin & David Wright to reach with one out in the fifth, and I have to give a lot of credit to Don Mattingly for lifting his young starter after 4 1/3 with two lefties coming up, rather than being beholden to the silly ‘win’ statistic as so many other managers would. Rather than allowing Eovaldi to labor on a warm day with runners on the corners, Scott Elbert entered to strike out Ike Davis and induce a Daniel Murphy flyball, and one of the the largest New York threats of the day was over.

Elbert, Shawn Tolleson, & Jamey Wright combined to throw 3.1 innings of one-run ball – and more on that run in a second – which allowed Mattingly to hand the ball in the ninth to Javy Guerra, getting his first save opportunity since May 6 with Kenley Jansen unavailable. It didn’t go well; Guerra wasn’t exactly hit hard, since one of the two hits he gave up in the ninth was an infield single and his walk was intentional, but he never looked comfortable from the start and the combination of two hits, a sacrifice bunt, and an infield groundout led to the Mets tying the game.

Guerra made it through the tenth unscathed, though it’s hard to say that it was encouraging that he allowed a leadoff double to Kirk Nieuwenhuis and a walk to Scott Hairston in doing so. Wall then made it through the heart of the New York order in the eleventh, allowing only a Wright single. That set the stage for the LOL-fest in the top of the twelfth against Ramon Ramirez, as ten Dodgers batted and five of them – James Loney, Tony Gwynn, Treanor, Cruz, & Kennedy – got hits, leading to the very odd extra-inning final of 8-3, the first two of which came on Juan Rivera‘s blast in the fourth inning. Matt Kemp had his fourth consecutive two-hit game; both Ellises joined him with multiple hits. Josh Lindblom finished in a non-save situation, and the Dodgers take their sweep and head to St. Louis, where the Cardinals are finishing up a sweep of their own against the Cubs today.

But the main story of the day, as it always seems to be, was the umpiring, where there were at least five calls that were either clearly incorrect or very questionable, and that’s not even counting balls and strikes. In the fourth, Murphy doubled down the right field line, a ball that clearly seemed to land foul. That didn’t hurt the Dodgers, but a call by home plate umpire Jim Joyce in the seventh loomed large. Tolleson had seemingly struck out Ike Davis to complete a 1-2-3 inning, but home plate umpire Jim Joyce argued that Davis had tipped the ball as the Dodgers ran off the field.

Uh, you tell me:

Given a second chance, Davis doubled to right and came home on a Murphy single, and I think we’ve all seen enough baseball to know that given a gift like that, the chances of Davis turning it into something were approximately 10000%. Someone really ought to set up a real-time sports book that allows me to bet on things like that happening.

The umpiring miscues didn’t stop there. On the infield grounder which tied the game in the ninth, Loney bobbled the ball, preventing a play at the plate which he may not have had anyway, and threw to first to get Davis, who was clearly safe. The following inning, Mike Nickeas bunted into what looked like a pitcher-to-third-to-first double play, but first base umpire Mike DiMuro ruled that Mark Ellis had pulled his foot off first base, a ruling which was admittedly inconclusive on replay but that even the Mets broadcasters were saying didn’t look right, even though it had gone in their favor. Then in the twelfth, Gwynn’s bunt single looked for all the world that he was actually out at first, which was a big play because it gave the Dodgers two on and none out as opposed to one out and Loney on second.

I don’t know if I can think of an uglier game this year, but a sweep is a sweep, so I’ll gladly take it. On to St. Louis!

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