Choose the more appropriate caption for Shane Victorino being shocked:
1) “What do you mean none of us could hit Barry F’ing Zito?
2) “Chris Capuano really made it only three lousy innings in his biggest game of the year because he hurt himself with a donut??”
3) “Matt Kemp had two on and two outs in the fifth and couldn’t get runs home?”
4) “Matt Kemp had two on and two outs in the seventh and still couldn’t get runs home?!”
5) “Don Mattingly really intentionally walked Angel Pagan to get to Marco Scutaro with men on, even though Scutaro has been blazingly hot and the exact same maneuver didn’t work a few weeks ago?”
6) “Mark Ellis did WHAT?!?! Get the hell out.”
7) “Please tell me that Don Mattingly didn’t force A.J. Ellis to bunt in the bottom of the ninth in a misguided attempt to have Elian Herrera or Bobby Abreu swinging away instead of one of your better hitters, right? Right?! AND that Dee Gordon wasn’t brought in to run for Andre Ethier yet? RIGHT?!”
Frankly, I’m exhausted from watching that game. Just drained. It was alternately thrilling and excruciating, and I’m not sure if I actually even enjoyed the experience or not. The Reds did their job, including a good inning from old friend Jonathan Broxton, to put the Dodgers in a position to head into the final day of the season still alive. And for a minute there in the seventh, you couldn’t help but believe.
After Zito hit Andre Ethier with a pitch to lead off the frame and was relieved by Guillermo Mota, A.J. Ellis followed with one of the most impressive at-bats of the season, a nine-pitch affair that ended with a blast over the wall that fell just out of the reach of center fielder Pagan to bring the Dodgers within one. Dodger Stadium wasn’t full, but it sure sounded like it at that point. Just when you think the legend of A.J. Ellis can’t get any larger… well, there you go.
They weren’t done. Mark Ellis doubled to deep right and… we won’t talk about that. It was a hard-hit ball for extra bases. Victorino followed with a similar hit, this time making it to third, and with three extra-base hits in the inning and Kemp coming up down one, everything was in place for magic. But it wasn’t to be. Kemp went fishing for a low-and-away slider, the kind that we saw him go after constantly back in the 2006-08 era, and the threat was over.
After a quiet eighth, there was hope in the ninth… briefly. Ethier, somewhat miraculously, singled up the middle against lefty Jeremy Affeldt. A runner! The move seemed clear: bring Gordon off the bench, let A.J. Ellis try to repeat his magic or possibly hit one into the gap that Gordon might be able to score on. If Ellis failed, then let Gordon try to steal ahead of Herrera (or his pinch-hitter, Abreu.)
No. Of course not. Mattingly sent in the bunt signal without sending in Gordon, and while it’d have been nice if Ellis could have made it work, it almost didn’t matter. What was the end game there? Twice-DFA’d Bobby Abreu with your season on the line? Elian Herrera? You’re taking the bat out of the hands of one of your best hitters for… what, exactly? Moving Ethier up 90 feet that Gordon probably could have (and eventually did) steal anyway? It’s stunning. Ellis struck out after failing to bunt twice, Abreu flew out, and Mark Ellis failed to redeem himself.
And with that… it’s over. The Reds did their part. We could have had an absolutely rocking Dodger Stadium for a late afternoon game tomorrow with Clayton Kershaw on the hill, especially since the game is to start earlier than the Cardinals game.
But it wasn’t to be, and there’s no shortage of reasons why.
And I’m spent.