It was heroics and heartbreak for the Dodgers in their two-game series with the New York Yankees. Last night provided a reminder that the Dodgers won’t win every game, but at least the Dodger Stadium crowd was treated to seeing Yankee legend Rivera pitch a perfect ninth inning. This came on the heels of Mark Ellis’s walk-off single Tuesday night that gave the Dodgers second straight walk-off victory.
The highly anticipated series drew more than 100,000 fans in two days. Although the Yankees, still in fourth place in the AL East, appear unlikely to make the playoffs this year, this classic MLB matchup had a distinct playoff feel. How to sum it up? Amazing starting pitching and timely hitting were the stories of the series.
About that starting pitching. Zack Greinke and another Yankee legend, Andy Pettitte, set the tone for the series Tuesday night. The two veterans matched each other pitch for pitch over seven innings. Their lines for the night:
Zack Greinke: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 0 BB
Andy Pettitte: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 0 BB
Clayton Kershaw and former Dodger, Hiroki Kuroda, raised the bar Wednesday.
Clayton Kershaw: 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB
Hiroki Kuroda: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 8 K, 1 BB
In terms of contrast between National League and American League style, this series had a decidedly National League feel with the strong starting pitching. The other part of the series was the timely hitting. Obviously, Mark Ellis had the key hit Tuesday night, a two-out single to score Andre Ethier from second. Another key to that scoring sequence was Ethier stealing second, his fourth stolen base of the season.
Ironically, it would be role players for the Yankees who would deliver the decisive blows last night. Lyle Overbay delivered the go-ahead single for the Yankees in the ninth inning, but Jayson Nix put the nail in the coffin with the help of Yasiel Puig. With two runners on, Nix popped up to shallow right field. Ellis tracked the ball out, appeared to call for it and, as Fox Sports’ Steve Lyons put it, Ellis camped out underneath it. Puig came charging in full speed, bumped into Ellis, and the ball that was in Ellis’s glove had popped out. Two unearned runs had scored.
Although Ellis got charged with an error on the play, because the ball touched his glove, anyone watching the game will tell you that Puig got too overzealous on that one. Not that that lost the game, but a comeback from down 1-0 is a lot more probable than a comeback from down 3-0.
Despite the playoff type feel of the series, it actually had very little implications on the standings. The Dodgers remain in first place in the NL West by 2 1/2 games and the Yankees remain in fourth place, eight games back of the AL-leading Boston Red Sox. The Dodgers will begin a four game series with the Chicago Cubs beginning Thursday evening.
The Cubs just lost three of four games at Wrigley Field to the Milwaukee Brewers, the second worst team in the NL. Although the Cubbies are a .500 team in July, they have been in full-on sell mode leading up to Wednesday’s trade deadline. They dealt pitchers Matt Garza and Scott Feldman to Texas and Baltimore respectively. The Cubs also sent Alfonso Soriano and a substantial amount of his paycheck to the New York Yankees, simply to be rid of him seemingly.
This would figure to be another series ripe for the Dodgers taking. However, sometimes the games at Wrigley can be just as dicey as the winds blowing across the outfield onto Waveland Ave. Ricky Nolasco will pitch the series opener Thursday evening and will be opposed by Chicago rookie Chris Rusin, who will be making his fourth start of the season.
In case you missed it, be sure to find out more about the trade for Drew Butera!