Archives for posts with tag: A.J. Ellis

win-for-vin

Would you believe a home run? The Dodgers have clinched the division and will celebrate on schedule.

Vin Scully, like many of us in the stadium yesterday, had been watching the other game (Giants 3, Padres 4 in the top of the 9th) as Dodger second-baseman Charlie Culberson came to the plate. There were two outs, and his team was tied with the Rockies 3-3 in the bottom of the 10th. We were bracing to go to the 11th and to clinch the National League West championship via San Francisco’s demise.

“Culberson doesn’t have any homers,” my husband lamented. “It’s time for him to get his first.”

BAM! Vin Scully got to report one last miracle in Chavez Ravine before hanging up his microphone and heading home.

For me, it was better than Kirk Gibson’s home run simply because I was there to see it with my own eyes.

I’ve witnessed many amazing moments at Dodger Stadium — Fernando’s no-hitter, Manny’s bobblehead slam, Steve Finley’s clinching homer — but they came mostly from players who were well-known to be capable of such big contributions.

No one expected anything like this from Culberson, who practically danced from third to his waiting teammates at home plate. It was a beautiful, joyful and totally surprising turn of events.

When Kershaw was injured, a postseason berth looked like a lost cause. Luckily, this scrappy team didn’t see what so many of the rest of us saw.

To a man, they came through when needed. The unlikeliest of heroes emerged game after game. With the steady leadership of manager Dave Roberts, the veterans — Adrián González, Chase Utley, Howie Kendrick and A.J. Ellis (now gone but never forgotten) — and the rest of a roster made from spare parts came together to make history.

This is a team in the truest sense of the word.

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la-sp-clayton-kershaw-shutout-20150708The plush toy of a certain “little girl” (don’t call her a cat) may have been smaller than people expected, but pitcher Clayton Kershaw made up for it with his best performance of the year last night, one that looked like the Kershaw of old, before baby and big contract took a little of the polish off.

Before the game, when the on-field hipster hosts were pushing for votes to get Kersh into the All-Star Game, my friend Liz said she wouldn’t vote for him because she wanted our ace to think about his season so far — 5-6 with a 3.03 ERA, not a bad number for a mortal, but way too high for Kershaw. (The losing record was only partly his fault, as he got virtually no run support in any of his starts.)

Liz thought Kershaw needed a timeout over the midseason break. She said, “If Kershaw pitches a no-hitter, I’ll vote for him.” (Both she and I — season ticket holders — missed his no-no last year, which we regret every day.)

But I offered this suggestion: “What if he pitches a complete-game shutout? Will you vote for him then?”

Liz thought about it, and said, “OK.” And that’s exactly what he did, beating the Phillies, 5-0, and increasing the Dodgers’ lead over the Giants and D’Backs to 5 games.

It was a beautiful thing. Even though he struck out 13 batters, Kershaw got in jams several times — two men on with no outs … guys on the corners with one out — but he and his favorite catcher, A.J. Ellis, got out of every one of them unscathed.

And speaking of A.J. Ellis, he broke out of a hitting slump big time, going 3-for-4 with a 2-run homer in the 2nd.

Get voting, Liz!

I Thought It Would Never End
The gem by Kershaw was my kind of game, unlike the slogging trudgefest two nights earlier, when I was sure we were going to see the longest regulation 9-inning game in history.

Monday’s 10-7 victory over Philadelphia fell 14 minutes shy of the longest National League game ever, thanks to the lack of a Dodgers starter for the evening. Why is the “best team money can buy” putting the ball in the hands of relievers who can’t even be trusted to win when they’re handed a lead?

There wasn’t a single 1-2-3 inning. Nearly every batter ran the count full. San Francisco started their game after us, and were finished losing before we had an out in the top of the 6th. The 7th-innning stretch came at 10:27.

Then, in the top of the 9th, with a 10-7 lead, Kenley Jansen walked the first batter and gave up a single to the second, putting the tying run at the plate. I figured he still wanted to try for the record, but he was just teasing the 50 or so fans still in the stadium, and the final out came 4 hours and 13 minutes after first pitch.

LX5zO.AuSt.38Splish Splash!

No matter what the bean-balling bullies in Arizona think, the Dodgers deserved a dunk in the outfield pool at Chase Field. What better way to thank the D’Backs for the inspiration to take this season all the way to the end?

In early June, the Boys in Blue were written off as basement-dwellers after the most dismal April and May that I can remember. The Diamondbacks were smugly lording their first-place position over us, throwing balls at the players’ heads and sneering at the Dodgers’ high payroll and higher expectations.

That brawl on the field at Chavez Ravine — the most violent diamond fight since Roseboro and Marichal — sparked a fire in the Dodgers’ hearts. It was the turning point, just like in a movie, where the heroes turn it around and start winning game after game, with a soaring John Williams soundtrack in the background.

Hey, it was enough to win me back, and I’m pretty famous for never abandoning my boycotts. (I got my postseason tickets in the mail right after the game was over. Perfect timing!)

So the hard part is over, the even harder part is about to begin. One day at a time, one game at a time, one inning at a time.

GO DODGERS!