Earlier today, we watched the Giants pull off yet another comeback victory, approximately their 34th in the last two weeks, and then we watched someone called “Andrew Werner” shut the Dodgers down for six innings. Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, & Shane Victorino combined for just one hit, and headed into the ninth we were prepared for yet another evening of “I can’t believe this group of no-name pitchers shut down this offense, except of course I can” groaning that would be punctuated by the fact that each missed opportunity sent them further & further behind San Francisco with time running perilously thin.
But you know what? This team might have a little magic left to it after all.
Just a day after Gonzalez walked off to beat Arizona, Andre Ethier took matters into his own hands by taking Luke Gregerson just barely over the right field wall to tie the game at 3 in the bottom of the ninth. In the eleventh, Kemp & Hanley Ramirez made two quiet outs, and we prepared to see the rebirth of the John Ely era.
Except… well, except that Ethier wasn’t ready for that to happen, singling sharply to right. Neither was Luis Cruz, who advanced Ethier with his fourth hit of the night – a new career high, of course. With two on and two out, A.J. Ellis came up against Cory Burns, the seventh San Diego pitcher of the night, and you know what happened next. A.J. Ellis, superstar.
Honestly, I have to ask at this point, who’s the more fun story for this team, Ellis or Cruz? The fact that there’s even a competitor for the title with everything that Ellis has done this year really shows what an out-of-nowhere contributor Cruz has been. Watching Cruz and Ramirez (who hit his tenth homer in 38 games as a Dodger earlier in the game) produce on the left side the way they have, compared to the Dee Gordon / Juan Uribe / disastrophe we were saddled with earlier in the season… well, it’s nearly beyond words.
To merely focus on the final few innings unfairly ignores the rest of the game, of course, but that’s how these things go. After a first inning homer to Chase Headley – merely the best non-Buster Posey hitter in the NL over the last two months – Joe Blanton settled down for another good start, pitching into the seventh inning before Randy Choate & Ronald Belisario (who somehow both seemingly injured their pitching hands in the span of about five minutes) combined to allow the go-ahead run. Brandon League, pitching for the fourth time in five days, pitched two shutout innings to continue his recent dominating streak. And even Jamey Wright, he of “he’s still here?” pitched in two scoreless of his own.
But that’s not what we’re going to be talking about tomorrow. It’s going to be the tenth walkoff win of the year; it’s going to be yet another late-inning blast in the increasingly impressive Ethier ledger; it’s going to be Ellis & Cruz, surprising heroes for a surprising team.