James Loney's rocket to right center field in the 13th inning landed over the wall to end one of the most bizarre, thrilling, infuriating, and exciting games of the year as the Dodgers beat the Mets, 3-2.
It was Loney's first walk-off hit since delivering an RBI single against Colorado on April 27, 2008. He also delivered a true walk-off, a bases loaded base on balls on April 15, 2009 against the Giants. "The one thing I can say about James Loney is don't take your eyes off him," said manager Joe Torre, "He is cool under pressure."
The game was decided by two left-handers buried in their respective bullpens. Loney's home run was hit off Oliver Perez, the sixth reliever used by the Mets. Earning the win for the Dodgers was George Sherrill, he of the recent waiver wire and will-he or won't-he minor league assignment requests. Sherrill was the eighth reliever used today by the Dodgers, pitching a perfect 13th inning, and picked up his first win of the season, becoming the 14th Dodger pitcher to earn a victory this year. In 2009, the Dodgers set a franchise record with 22 different pitchers recording a win.
Torre said Sherrill was going to be his last pitcher today, and had no plans to bring in Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw in emergency relief if needed.
Kenley Jansen, who was converted from catcher to pitcher almost exactly one year ago, made his major league debut today and did not disappoint. He entered for the Dodgers in a 2-2 tie against the Mets in the seventh inning, and retired the heart of the Mets lineup. Angel Pagan took one fastball, then swung and missed at two more. David Wright struck out as well, and Carlos Beltran grounded to shortstop Rafael Furcal to end the inning.
Jansen, who Torre called "very calm," threw almost all fastballs, ranging from 92 to 97 miles per hour, although his ball had quite a bit of movement as well. Jansen became the first Dodger pitcher to strike out the first two hitters of his career since Scott Elbert turned the trick on August 29, 2008. Torre gave Jansen the lineup card after the game.
Carlos Monasterios, 36 days since his last start, gave the Dodgers five solid innings, frankly something I didn't think he had in him. He allowed six hits and no runs, walking one and striking out three. More importantly, Monasterios threw strikes, with 53 of his 79 pitches (67.1%) finding the strike zone, a higher percentage than any of his other six starts this season. Monasterios got 15 called strikes, which tied his season high, and got six swinging strikes, one off his season high.
The Dodgers scored their second run in somewhat amusing fashion in the fourth inning. Blake DeWitt led off with a triple, and after Casey Blake struck out, Mets manager Jerry Manuel pulled out his trusty 2003 scouting manual and decided to intentionally walk Garret Anderson, who entered today's game hitting .186/.205/.286 and hasn't seen his name on a scoreboard with a number at or above .200 since April 17. Not surprisingly, the move didn't pay off, as Brad Ausmus singled up the middle to drive in DeWitt to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
The lead didn't last, thanks to more bad relief pitching, this time from James McDonald and Jack Taschner. McDonald faced four batters, and only retired one, while Taschner faced two batters, and didn't retire anybody. Taschner has faced three batters so far in his Dodger career, and still hasn't recorded an out. For the second straight game, Travis Schlichting entered with the bases loaded, only this time he induced a double play by Luis Castillo, needing only one pitch.
Hong-Chih Kuo pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Jonathan Broxton pitched scoreless frames in the ninth and 10th innings, making for a nice blueprint of Jansen-Kuo-Broxton in the not-so-distant future. Considering that Jansen has been pitching for only one calendar year, it is unfair to heap any kind of expectations on him, at least not yet. I mean, who knows how his arm will react to throwing 60 or 70 plus innings for the first time? But I can't help but jumping with both feet onto this bandwagon. Today we have seen the future of the Dodger bullpen, and his name is Kenley Jansen.
With eight relievers used today, Torre was asked about the availability of his pitching staff tomorrow. Torre said, "We have a 22-year old who is pretty strong," referring to tomorrow's starter, Clayton Kershaw, who will face R.A. Dickey in the series finale.
WP - George Sherrill (1-1): 1 IP, 3 up, 3 down
LP - Oliver Perez (0-4): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk