The game had a long way to go but as each Dodger rally failed to bring a run the sinking feeling in my stomach only grew bigger. Ryan Dempster was proving unhittable with men on base and due to his wildness we had men on base every time I looked up. When Ethier swung wildly at ball four with the bases loaded I could already see the headlines about how the kids just weren't ready. Chance after chance was squandered through the first 4 innings.
As the fifth inning wore on my expectations grew with each each walk. Something felt different with the Manny and Ethier at bats. I was at the edge of my seat by the time that Ethier had forced a walk to load the bases. Up stepped James Loney and just like that the feeling in the pit of my stomach came back in force. My optimism started to evaporate and with each feeble swing it evaporated until with the count 1-2 I had zero expecations. The electricity had been shut down. I had two thoughts at that point. One was that we would be seeing Jeff Kent playing 1st base tomorrow given how pathetic James had looked after only four innings. The second was that now would be a great time for Dempster to throw one in the dirt and maybe we could steal a run on a wild pitch. With these expectations so low I sat back in my chair and relaxed, and was just about to put my feet back up on the ottoman when I saw James make contact. It looked like he had hit it off the end of the bat so I expected to see Jim Edmunds making a catch about 20 feet from the wall.
Nothing is better then seeing your expectations shattered by something truly awesome. Jim Edmunds wasn't gliding to make a simple catch to end the inning, he was in full retreat to the wall and as the ball floated over the center field fence Big Game James Loney was now part of Dodger playoff lore.
For this new generation of Dodger fans that only had the Jose Lima game to remind them that Dodgers come up big in the post season they finally had their own hero. Someone who could stand up with Rick Monday, Vic Davillio, Ron Cey, Dusty Baker, Steve Garvey, Bill Russel, Manny Mota, and the countless other Dodgers of my generation who sparked us into the world series 4 times from 74-81. Postseason offensive heroics have been lost on this generation and they have every right to be cynical bastards as the Dodgers have meekly bowed out of playoff series after playoff series over the last 20 years.
Not last night, not this year.
The prediction business got off to a good start. I said we'd win 3 - 2 with Lowe getting the victory. We did win and we did only give up two runs. Didn't expect to see the Dempster of 2008 but I sure didn't expect to see Nook Laloosh on the mound. Our Ace gets the call today. Big Z is going for the Cubs. I think Big Z is hurt; I'm calling this at 6-4 our way.