The Marlins scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning off Jonathan Broxton, delivering the Dodgers a crushing 5-4 loss in the opener of the three-game series in Miami. Broxton gets the loss, and he earned it, but the worst part about the loss was that the Marlins were just trying to give this game away. However, keeping with the fishing theme, the Dodgers gave it back.
Broxton retired the first two batters of the ninth inning with a 4-3 lead, and rather than use their best player, Hanley Ramirez, to pinch hit, manager Edwin Rodriguez chose to let Emilio Bonifacio bat. Ramirez is in a 2-for-27 slump and didn't start tonight, but when given the choice to face Bonifacio or Ramirez to try to end the game, every pitcher in baseball would choose Bonifacio. Rodriguez made that choice, and Broxton rendered it moot by walking Bonifacio. That gave Ramirez a chance to bat, and he singled, putting runners on first and third base with two outs.
Then, Broxton lived up to his modus operandi by being shaky yet getting the job done, as Scott Cousins grounded to shortstop to end the game...only this time the game didn't end. The ball off the bat of Cousins went right under the glove of Jamey Carroll, which allowed the tying run to score and the winning run to advance to third base.
After the error by Carroll and an intentional walk to Chris Coghlan, who homered twice tonight, Broxton gave up a line drive off the bat of Omar Infante that sailed over the head of Jerry Sands in left. It was a bit of sweet redemption for Infante, who could have been the goat.
Broxton might not have had a save situation at all if it weren't for Infante, who had an eighth inning to forget for Florida. After Scott Cousins and Coghlan greeted Vicente Padilla with a walk and single, respectively, Infante tried to sacrifice both runners up on base. His bunt was poor, a grounder right to Padilla, who retired the lead runner at third base. Then, Gaby Sanchez hit a single to center to score Coghlan to cut the lead to 4-3, a single that likely would have tied the score had Infante's bunt been a good one. Then, with one out and Infante on second base, Mike Stanton flied out to centerfielder Matt Kemp, who fired a perfect strike to Aaron Miles to nab Infante, who was trying to tag on the play.
The bad ending for the Dodgers marred another terrific start by Jon Garland. Garland allowed just two runs on four hits in seven strong innings, and left with a 4-2 lead. The only two runs allowed by Garland came off the bat of Coghlan, who hit solo home runs in the third and sixth inning.
Rod Barajas appeared to injure his leg running to first base in the seventh inning after striking out on a wild pitch by Ricky Nolasco. Barajas was removed for pinch runner Tony Gwynn Jr. with a 2-1 count on the next batter, Ivan DeJesus Jr., a rare occurrence of a pinch runner coming in mid-batter. The good news is that before the bottom of the eighth inning, Barajas came out to catch Padilla's warm up pitches (per Tony Jackson of ESPN LA), while Dioner Navarro was busy putting on his catching gear (after grounding into a double play). Then, after the game, Don Mattingly told reporters that the decision to pinch run was for strategic purposes only.
The Streak Continues
Andre Ethier wasted no time extending his hitting streak, singling with two outs in the first inning to extend his streak to 22 games. He tied Joe Torre (1972) for the longest-ever hitting streak in April in MLB history, and has the longest hitting streak at any point in the season by a Dodger since Nomar Garciparra in 2006. The next longest hitting streak by a Dodger was Brett Butler, who hit in 23 straight in 1991.
- Sands had three hits, including his third double, and drove in the first Dodger run. Judging from Charley Steiner's call of Sands' double, in the top of the sixth inning, it appeared close to being Sands' first home run, but alas, that was not the case.
- Speaking of near home runs, Kemp hit a rocket off the left field wall in the eighth inning for a leadoff double. Two batters later, Kemp scored on a ground ball single through the drawn-in infield off the bat of James Loney
- Carroll did have a solid game at the plate, collecting two hits, including the go-ahead RBI single in the top of the seventh.
- DeJesus, off the back of a milk carton into your box score, made his first start since April 2, and collected two hits, scoring once.
Hong-Chih Kuo is pitching tonight, and tomorrow, for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. You can listen to the game, currently playing, here.
- Clayton Kershaw faces Chris Volstad in tomorrow night's game
WP - Brian Sanches (3-0): 3 up, 3 down
LP - Jonathan Broxton (1-1): 2/3 IP, 2 hits, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout