Take that, Rory Markas! Seeing eye grounders might be Angels baseball, but winning while getting no-hit is Dodger Baseball, sucka!
O.K., now that I’ve finished doing cartwheels around the house (check!) and have laid off tormenting my trash talking, Angel loving cousin (check! and P.S.: incase you haven’t noticed, I REALLY love beating the Angels)… for now, let us examine this game a bit further.
The biggest thing that everyone is going to notice and remember years down the road is the fact that the Dodgers got no-hit and still won the game. And, for the record, whether or not it’s official is irrelevant (it’s not, by the way, because the Dodgers only came up to bat for 8 innings, instead of the official 9). The Dodgers played an entire game without getting a hit; therefore, they were no-hit. Perhaps it won’t be recognized by MLB, but they still went an entire game without getting a hit. However, while all of this will be talked about, let’s not forget the man who is mostly responsible for transforming this game into a strange celebration, instead of it easily becoming a potential horrific, and monumental embarrassment.
That is, of course, none other than Thunder Thighs, a.k.a. Chad Billingsley.
Thunder Thighs, in 111 pitches, threw 7 brilliant scoreless innings, while giving up 3 hits, walking 3, and striking out 7. That’s pretty good and it was probably his best start of the year. Total domination.
I think that with kids like Martin, Loney, Kemp usually being the focus of attention, and with the hype surrounding Clayton Kershaw, it seems as if Billingsley is slightly forgotten. That’s not to say that people won’t recognize his talent, but I think we can sometimes forget just how good he’s been or at least how he continues to get better and better. The kid is only 23 and he’s no longer just putting up good numbers for a 23 year old, he’s putting up great numbers, period. He got off to a bit of an erratic start, which began by Joe Torre dictating his first start by Yahoo! Weather or something, but, even despite that, look at his numbers:
ERA: 3.29 (1st on Dodgers, T-13th in NL)
K: 102 (1st on Dodgers, 5th in NL)
K/9: 9.56 (1st on Dodgers, 2nd in NL)
WPA: 1.22 (1st on Dodgers, 12th in NL)
pLI: 1.05 (5th on Dodgers, 9th in NL)
This isn’t to make Thunder Thighs out to be perfect. He still has some areas to improve on. He still needs to be more efficient with his pitch count, needs to harness his control a bit better, but a lot of this is expected from a young kid. He is just doing really well and he continues to get better and that’s while already currently being our ace. He’s my favorite starter to watch pitch and he’s only going to get better.
Another person who deserves some credit is Matt Kemp. My God, I have never seen a ground ball with that much english in my life. The ball just completely turned the opposite direction to throw off Weaver. He was able to steal second and get home. Way to manufacture a run and not get thrown into a rundown in the process.
Also, credit to Andre Ethier, who gunned down Erick Aybar on a double in the 6th inning. Considering a walk and a horrific fielding error by Jeff Kent followed that, you also saved our ass.
I suppose that’s not bad for a few of the kids who don’t really “get it” and don’t give constant fellatio to old, crusty veterans.
Finally, for as much flack as our offense gets, and rightfully so, while our offense might be sucking, our pitching sure hasn’t. In the past week:
6-28-08: W: 1-0
6-27-08: W: 6-0
6-26-08: L: 2-0
6-25-08: W: 5-0
Dodgers’ pitching overall this season ranks 2nd in the NL in ERA (3.77) while ranking in the top 5 in K’s, WHIP, and in the fewest amount of walks. Not bad, considering the fact that our “ace” is on the DL and, before that, he and our #2 had sucked for the first two months.
So, let’s see: a team with great pitching, but horrific hitting. Can you say 2003?
Finally, here are words that I never thought I’d ever utter and probably won’t again: but props to Luis Maza. He made an absolutely insane play in the ninth inning to rob Casey Kotchman of what looked like a sure hit. While it didn’t seem all that important at first, and just merely the second out, that play saved the game. With the eventual double by Kendrick and walk to Napoli, if Maza doesn’t make that play, they at least tie it. So… right on, Luis!
Overall, this game pretty much sums up in a strange way why I love baseball. Yes, while we still need to remember that our struggling offense got no-hit, which is not good no matter how you slice it, the fact that we won reminds me that whether you’ve been watching for years and post constantly on your blog or even if you’ve been calling games for 60 years, you might run into something that you’ve never seen before, as the real Vin said, tonight. And leave it to the Dodgers to pull this off: the masters of the utterly insane, wacky and zany. I mean, really, think about the twisted irony of this whole situation: for a team that has had mostly a non-existent offense the entire year, an offense with no power that constantly loses games for its pitchers and gives them no support, they might have completely turned their season around and have gotten the sparkplug they needed…
By getting no-hit.
Savor it, folks. Chances are, you’ll never see it again.