For the second time in the same week, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost a 14-inning marathon to a division rival. Like the World Series, it’s hard to decipher which was more heartbreaking or demoralizing. These are the posts that are tough to write – when a writer who is also a fan needs time to collect himself. Now you might want to be sitting down for the news I am to deliver.
The Dodgers have started a season with a 2-6 mark, matching their worst start in 45 years. When the Dodgers lost 7-5 on Saturday night, it was at the hands of Andrew McCutchen. The same Andrew McCutchen who said before the season started that he wanted to ‘stick it to the Dodgers’ every time he played them.
He stuck it to them; with historic proportions. McCutchen became the second player in baseball’s modern era (since 1900) with six hits and a walk-off home run in a game. Wilmer Font battled him for 12 pitches like a gladiator fighting a lion. The same Font who just days ago showed amazing guile in keeping the Dodgers in the game in a 14-inning affair in Arizona. And on the twelfth pitch, heartbreak arrived at our doorsteps once again.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 8, 2018
If you’re like me – you hung out for five and a half hours to see the Dodgers lose in the most crushing fashion imaginable. They exhausted the use of every player on the 25-man roster with the exception of Alex Wood. Some of the bizarre items a marathon game like this delivers:
- Hyun-Jin Ryu pinch hit, and struck out on a 97-MPH fastball.
- Kenta Maeda, who was scheduled to start Friday night’s rain-out, made a relief appearance.
- Clayton Kershaw pinch hit and struck out, with it looking like the game was in the Dodgers’ grasp.
When you use your full arsenal of players and exhaust every avenue to win a game and come up short, the toll it takes on a team is not to be underestimated. The Dodgers did not receive a very good start from Rich Hill – which in some respects seems like a few games ago. Hill lasted just four innings, and while striking out six; he was largely ineffective and inefficient.
We were just getting started that that point. The Dodgers overcame deficits of 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3 in the middle parts of the game. With the score tied at four, they mounted what felt like a final charge in the top of the 14th inning. To this team’s credit, the core that you’ve come to know shows an incredible amount of fight in the face of all odds. Just like last October.
Yasiel Puig had an outstanding at-bat against a Giants reliever named Roberto Gomez. Gomez would end up the winning pitcher as the final reliever out of the Giant’s bullpen. This was title he didn’t necessarily deserve. Cody Bellinger followed with a single to right field off Gomez; a pitcher with five career appearances. With runners at the corners, Logan Forsythe ripped a single to left field to score Puig and give the Dodgers a 5-4 lead. Finally, it felt like triumph had arrived. But it was not meant to be.
The final scroll in this one will show a Giants rally in the bottom half of the 14th frame. Kelby Tomlinson and Joe Panik singled to begin the inning off Font. And then the at-bat that made McCutchen part of history took place. If you felt a bit snakebitten, sullen, shocked, or stunned at this point; you are forgiven.
Picking Up The Pieces
All is not lost. There are still 154 games to be played, and Clayton Kershaw pitches tomorrow. It’s fair to say that this team has it’s share of problems, but they also carry with them the incredible ability to never stop fighting. There were slight positives in this game. I ask you to let that be the take-home message so that you keep your sanity.
Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager looked decent at the plate. Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley showed signs of life. Kenley Jansen wiggled out of danger with a couple strikeouts – looking as close to the Jansen of old as we have seen yet. Ross Stripling looks like a winning big league pitcher, painting the corners on four consecutive strikeouts.
The Dodgers need to string together a few wins by playing sound baseball, one game at a time. They definitely have the look of a team who needs to get back to Chavez Ravine and have a level comfort restored. Titles of any kind are not won or lost in April. This season will be no different. There are many chapters left to be written about the 2018 Dodgers. I close this post with the hope that the saddest parts of the story are left in the wake behind us.
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