Ten hours (you know, the length of your garden variety Wimbledon match) later, I am still stunned by the ending to last night's game. The game ended on a play so bizarre, so jaw-dropping that the play-by-play description
Single to LF (Fly Ball to Short LF); Johnson to 3B; Martin out at 3B/LF-2B
doesn't do it justice (especially since Russell Martin was called out at second base, not third). The ninth inning has garnered quite a reaction around the interwebs. Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscias Tragic Illness recalls the play:
[Jamey] Carroll – who I hate to admit, has grown on me like a weed – gets the job done by blooping a single to left, scoring Johnson to tie the game. …except, no. Now bear with me because there’s so much stupid going on in this one play that it burns the soul (and I hope you still have "Yakety Sax" running). Johnson, instead of running home like his house was on fire, jogs home. Jogs. With the tying run with two outs in the 9th, on a ball that was in no way a home run.
"Burns the soul" is an apt description of that play, to be sure.
Jack Moore of Fangraphs artfully breaks down the play, complete with screen captures and diagrams. After breaking down the final play, Moore concludes last night's game might follow the Isner vs. Mahut path:
David Brown of Yahoo! Sports Big League Stew breaks down the ninth inning, in game show fashion.
Video of the Kemp pickoff can be seen here and here. It was certainly a controversial move by Brian Fuentes, one that could have been called a balk, but to me the mistake was Kemp veering too far off the base. Joe Torre said after the game that the Dodgers specifically discussed Fuentes' pickoff move in their scouting reports, so Kemp should have been more aware. The reward of the extra step or two wasn't worth the risk.
Weird game, that's for sure, but I get the feeling the Angels got (and I hate to use the word...) lucky last night. I'm not too sure Fuentes didn't balk on his pick off of Kemp, Martin might have been safe on the play that ended the game, and the club is fortunate Reed Johnson didn't run full-speed. I'm not saying the Angels didn't deserve to win the game, they did just based on Pineiro's performance...and in spite of another Brian "I got the save so I must be pitching good" Fuentes lob-toss inning.
The beneficiary of the Dodger ninth inning blunders just may have been Manny Ramirez, who really should have scored from first base on Matt Kemp's booming double in with two outs in the third inning. With sufficient scorn being spread around among Johnson, Martin, and Kemp, Manny's blunder flies under the radar.
When you think about, all these mistakes were bad, but they prevented the Dodgers from scoring an elusive second run. To me, what is more worrisome is that the offense has scored a total of four runs in three games, 15 runs in their last six games, and are averaging 3.8 runs per game this month. Since the first two and a half weeks of the season, the Dodgers have scored just 4.05 runs per game. Score more runs, and we can worry that the Dodgers won 4-2 instead of 5-2, instead of wading in the shallow end of the offensive pool.