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Towels, walks and a bloop - No. 8

 

As I said, when I started this, this was pretty much a running list and somewhat based on what I can recall about the game itself.

This is one where I don't need to go back and look up the box score aside to get the spelling right because I saw every pitch and it remains one of the best times I ever had at the Stadium.

When I look back over the past 5 years at Dodger Stadium, I have seen some amazing things, some that even have a life on blogs like Dodger Thoughts and TBLA.  4+1, the Bat Flip, The Summer of Manny, Kershaw vs. Jiminez, Andre the Walkoff King are among the events that have excited this Dodger fan since 2006.

But going into Game 2 of the 2009 NLDS, this fan was somewhat worried because although the team had beaten Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright was just as nasty a pitcher against the Dodgers and all the Cardinals needed was a split to go back home to St. Louis and win it there.

But the Dodgers also had an ace of their sleeve, Clayton Kershaw was starting the game and was set up to be a great pitching duel.

The Cardinals got out in front when their mid-season addition, Matt Holliday homered and for a while that looked like the only run of the game.,  But then a few innings later, Andre Ethier tied it up with his own solo shot.

Both pitchers kept the other team scoreless but I recall talking to Hollywood Joe as Kershaw batted in the sixth, should he be taken out but in the end we decided it was all right for him to stay him.  But then a single and a double by Rasmus made it 2-1 and it seemed like it was destined to be a Cardinal tough win and split.

Before you knew it, it was the bottom of the ninth and two outs.  Ryan Franklin had two strikes on James Loney and it seemed pre-destined for a victory.  But then as fast as you could say line drive, things changed.  From where I stood, all I saw was Holliday come in and then I saw the ball hit him and drop to the ground, my eyes searched for Loney and I saw him running to second and then there was hope.  Some like Adam Wainwright blamed the towels but whatever it was, video later showed that Holliday never saw the ball.

That hope turned to a plea as Casey Blake got hosed on a check swing and for anyone who has watched Casey play for the last 3 years, two strikes on Casey generally leads to a strikeout.  But he battled, and battled and after what seemed like 10 minutes, Casey walked.  Before you could get over the walk, Ronnie Belliard hit a shot into center and Juan Pierre came racing home to tie it up.  Now, I have witnessed plenty of comebacks and often the next guy makes an out and that momentum dies.

But Franklin was suddenly off and never came close to throwing a strike to Martin who quickly walked to load the bases.

Mark Loretta, who while not as quite reviled as Garrett Anderson would be in 2010, had a pretty miserable time as a Dodger pinch-hitter after some initial success.  But somehow you felt that if he could put the bat on the ball, good things would happen.  And with the crowd roaring, towels waving and every eye fixed on Mark, he delivered a little jam shot into left center.  Once I saw the ball and could see where it was going, a feeling of great joy came to me and every person (okay, not those wearing Cardinal gear) became delirious.  

There have been a few times when I left a game when the Dodgers had made a comeback and everyone in the parking lot is high-fiving and now one is really upset about the wait.

There is nothing like sports to create a community, whether you win or lose, it is often the shared experience that binds a group of people who have nothing more in common than the cap on their head.

They'll be games going forward on this list that led to titles but for that moment in the time, I'll never trade the excitement of being there that afternoon.  So watch out H2O, you might be chock full of aces but nothing is guaranteed, the Dodgers beat two Cy Young Candidates in 2009 and the Phillies still have to play the games to win in 2010.

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