Oh, the insanity! Triple play leads to Dee-day, Dodger hooray

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Runners were on first and second with none out in a tie game in the top of the ninth when Javy Guerra threw a pitch so far inside that it nearly hit Don Mattingly in the Dodger dugout.

Jesus Guzman, attempting to bunt, tried to get out of the way, but instead of turning his back and earning a trip to first base the hard way, he kept his bat out – and the ball found a spot in between his hands on the wood. It landed on the dirt just behind home plate, and as umpire Dale Scott began gesticulating, it rolled fair.

The most underrated player in baseball in 2012, A.J. Ellis, picked up the ball the moment it went fair and fired it down to Juan Uribe at third base, starting an around-the-horn triple play that showed, with incredible authority, that Guerra absolutely has the stuff to dominate the ninth inning.

It also kept the Dodgers alive on an afternoon in which Clayton Kershaw had some rare struggles, alive long enough for Dee Gordon to single in the game-winning run with two out in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 victory over the Padres.

The Dodgers have won six games in a row and still have baseball’s best record at 9-1. (Milwaukee lost today, ensuring that the Dodgers will go at least another three games before playing a team whose record is above .500. )

Matt Kemp hit his sixth homer in the season’s first 10 games and had hits in his first three at-bats to raise his batting average at one point to .500. Andre Ethier drove in his 15th run of the season, and Juan Rivera had two RBI. Thanks largely to their contributions, the Dodgers led 4-1 after three innings.

But Kershaw wasn’t his untouchable self today, allowing seven hits in the first five innings (and an unearned run thanks to a third-inning Gordon error) before walking the bases loaded in the sixth. A one-out, RBI single by Orlando Hudson ended Kershaw’s day, and a two-run single by Jeremy Hermida off Josh Lindblom handed the defending Cy Young Award winner his third straight no-decision to start 2012.

Los Angeles, which ultimately left 15 runners on base – including the three celebrating the victory after Gordon’s hit – nearly scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning (when Ethier struck out with two on), seventh inning (when Gordon struck out with three on) and eighth inning (when Kemp’s no-out near-single was turned into a double play by Hudson, who was covering second because Mark Ellis was running).

Gordon hadn’t exactly been having the best day, though he had stolen two bases (giving him an MLB-high seven on the year) and made a fine running catch in left-center in the eighth. But he went with the last pitch he saw in the ninth and hit it sharply into left field, ending all the drama except for whether his small frame would survive the mammoth Kemp-led dogpile.

Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jansen and Guerra combined for three shutout innings to keep the Dodgers close after their lead went away.

A.J. Ellis went 0 for 2 but walked three times to give him eight on the season (in eight games), tied for fourth in the National League. And he also had the presence of mind to start the game-saving triplet-killing.

I was at the game for the Dodgers’ last triple play at Dodger Stadium, on June 13, 1998, and that also came on an attempted bunt and was just about as bizarre. From 100 Things Dodgers:

Kurt Abbott of Colorado popped up a bunt attempt – enough to freeze teammates Jamey Wright and Neifi Perez on first and second base (the infield fly rule can’t be called on bunts). Pitcher Darrren Dreifort let the ball drop, and then the throws went from Dreifort to shortstop Jose Vizcaino to force Perez, then to Eric Young at first base to retire Abbott, and finally across the diamond to Bobby Bonilla at third base to tag out Wright. The ol’ 1-6-4-5.

  • Anonymous

    Is that the same Jamey Wright who is in our pen?

    • Dave Alden

      Yes, it is.

  • Anonymous

    If you said who were the 4 dodgers who were involved in the last triple play, would anyone have said Dreifort, Viscaino, Young then Bonilla? Would anyone have guessed all 4 (or even 1 of them!?!)

    • Anonymous

      Is that the last triple play or the last triple play at DS?

      • Anonymous

        The last one we turned home or away I believe

  • Anonymous

    I thought the triple play in Atlanta was the last one. Thanks for the correction :)

    • Anonymous

      I may be wrong

  • Anonymous

    I was at the game today, but just how good was Vin? I imagine he was outstanding.

    • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

      It was a pleasure to hear him, especially after missing him the rest of the homestand. He had some gems, and even though he may have stumbled once or twice and coughed away from the mic once or twice, he was still a total treat. Great game to have him call. 

      • Anonymous

        Thanks. It seemed so perfectly set for a classic Vin narrat–especially with Dee’s defensive struggles and offensive redemption.

    • Anonymous

      He brought up the Gene Hermanski story (everyone should wear 42); he poked fun at Hudson’s shoes (do whatever it takes to get a hit); and he mentioned that the offense has been struggling.

      Listening on the radio the only sad part is the recorded message:  ”Now for more play here’s Rick and Charley”  :( 

  • Anonymous

    To borrow an expression from a local sports announcer, today might be a Perfect Day: the Dodgers won, Frisco lost and Anaheim’s down by five in the Bronx.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    At the rate today’s game was going, I was worried at one point that Vin was going to have to do a 15-hour broadcast to make up for the games he missed. 

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    I was part of two triple plays in grade school softball on the playground. 

    • Anonymous

      I pulled off an unassisted triple play in 6th grade kickball.  I’m pretty certain that I am the only person in the world who remembers that event.

      • Anonymous

        me too, same grade. played 2b. 2 on. caught line drive. stepped on 2nd, tagged out oncoming runner. SWEET.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Pitches/plate appearance: A.J. Ellis 4.13, Kemp 3.57, M. Ellis 3.39, Uribe 3.31, Gordon 3.14, Loney 3.00, Rivera 2.89, Ethier 2.88 #dodgers

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    .450 BA, 6 HR, 16 RBI, Through First 10 Team Games

    Since 1920

    Matt Kemp               2012 Dodgers

    Dante Bichette  1994 Rockies

    Lou Brock               1967 Cardinals

    Willie Mays             1964 Giants

    >> Source: Elias Sports Bureau

     

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    The typical major leaguer hits a home run once for every 9 to 10 fly balls he hits. Matt Kemp is atypical. His first 9 fly balls have resulted in 6 HR” – ESPN Stats and Information

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    “Kemp has had 5 at-bats end with curveballs. He has hits on all 5, with 3 singles, a double and a home run”

  • Anonymous

    He was in fine form :)

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    Dodgers turn first 2-5-6-3 triple play in history  http://yhoo.it/HY8YBD

    • Anonymous

      Jon, Jon, Jon…
      Please act like you have seen baseball before. :)

    • Anonymous

      Is that the 2-5-6-3 TP that SD has hit into?
      I’m just being sarcastic.  But what a horrible team.  The ball makes contact with the bat, goes down on the ground and neither the runner on second nor the runner on first decides to run on a play whose sole intention was to advance them.

  • http://underdog.typepad.com/ underdog

    Jon, to repeat my answer to your question on TBLA, for Dale Scott, it was simply a case of premature gesticulation.
    Every male umpire goes through that at times in his life.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Allen/1039528409 Steve Allen

    The “premature gesticulation” incident kinda took the fun out of the win at first, but after watching the play like ten times, I think the triple play would have happened anyhow. Guzman seemed to be looking for a Dodger dog somewhere behind third base; he didn’t notice the call at first. The other runners wouldn’t have reached regardless. At worst, maybe runner on first with 2 outs. Although the Padres definitely got ripped off, our boys still had to pull off the triple play. They still had to load em in the bottom of the inning, and Skinny G still had to get a hit. That 9 and 1 sure looks pretty. I haven’t been this excited about the Dodgers since Beast Mode and not missing Manny in ’09.

  • Anonymous

    Would love to say the play was clean, but no doubt the home plate umpire threw both hands in the error. Sometimes the breaks go for the good guys.