This is Josh Wall. He’s about to give up a walkoff grand slam to Jordany Valdespin. As you might imagine, Wall isn’t exactly the most popular man in the room among Dodger fans right now, allowing a hit and a walk before an intentional pass and the game-ending blast. Wall was indeed awful tonight, though it’s funny how soon it’s forgotten that he was absolutely stellar last night and is only on the team right now due to injuries.
Nor, I might add, is Brandon League, for what will show up in the box score as a “blown save”, though mainly it was for the crime of allowing David Wright to crack a game-tying single in the bottom of the ninth. That came with two outs, after a phenomenal play by Jerry Hairston and a decidedly less phenomenal play by Carl Crawford, botching a soft fly to left that turned into a double for Mike Baxter.
Nor again, is Don Mattingly, for… well, you name it. For sticking with Wall instead of bringing in Matt Guerrier or Paco Rodriguez, I suppose, even though each had pitched three of the last four days. (And one, I cannot emphasize enough, is Matt Guerrier.) For not having League intentionally walk Wright, as though any sane manager would put the winning run on base. For not having Kenley Jansen close instead of League, even though that’s hardly news and there’s a very good argument to be made against it. For essentially taking out Andre Ethier in place of Crawford for defensive purposes, which is sensible even though it ended poorly. Or for bothering to bring in a fifth infielder before the grand slam, because why does it matter how many infielders you have when the ball is in the stands? (Seriously. That’s an argument.)
If you think I’m just sort of spitballing at what Dodger fans are thinking, well, feel free to go check my Twitter mentions, because Dodger fans are — how to put this properly — FREAKING THE F OUT right now. This is probably the best way to describe it…
@mike_petriello if I’m ever tempted to start a Dodger blog I’m going to remember all your retweets and shoot myself before I can start.
— Christopher Gates (@ChrisWGates) April 25, 2013
The real truth? There’s no one place to put the blame here. Wall was terrible. League hasn’t been missing bats. Crawford, really, really should have made that catch. J.P. Howell shouldn’t have walked in the first two batters he saw in the sixth, putting Ronald Belisario in a situation where even a standard flyball to center led to an inherited run scoring. The lineup should have managed more than four hits against Matt Harvey and four relievers. It’s a team sport. It’s a team loss. It almost always is.
It’s a shame, because the poor ending overshadowed some good news earlier in the game. What can we say about Ted Lilly other than that he was wonderful, better than we could have ever asked for, striking out seven over five one-run innings. Even when the wheels looked like they were going to completely fall off — like when he loaded the bases in the second, and allowed hits to the first three Mets leading off the fifth — he managed to wriggle out of danger and minimize the damage. For a pitcher who we treated as less of a realistic option and more of an emergency joke, it was a phenomenal performance. Mea culpa.
Even Matt Kemp finally showed some life, driving in all three Dodger runs. After hustling down the line to avoid a double play in the first to allow Mark Ellis to score, Kemp stepped in against Harvey with two out and one on in the middle of the fifth. On a 2-0 count, Kemp crushed one deep to the opposite field, just clearing the fence in right, for his first homer of the season.
No one’s going to remember that, of course. It’s just going to be about how many different places to find blame. I’m not pleased with how this season has gone so far either, friends. But good lord… perspective. Please.