Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Gio Gonzalez

Pinch-hit homer can’t save Dodgers in NLDS Game 3

Patrick Gee/Los Angeles Dodgers

Patrick Gee/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In the ninth inning today, the Dodgers trailed 4-3, the exact deficit they faced in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

But this time, they had already used their pinch-hit, two-run home run. And this time, the ninth-inning home run was hit by the visitors. And that wasn’t all.

Putting its foot down with a four-run top of the ninth, Washington won, 8-3, leaving the Dodgers with no choice to save their season but to win Game 4 of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday and then Game 5 at Washington on Thursday.

Despite Carlos Ruiz hitting the first pinch-hit playoff homer by the home team in Los Angeles since Kirk Gibson, the Dodgers lost the first home playoff game since the retirement of the man who called Gibson’s homer, Vin Scully.

The Dodgers used 21 players — tying the team record for a playoff game and setting the team record for a nine-inning game —  in the longest nine-inning playoff game in franchise history (4:12).

Game 4 of the NLDS will take place at 2:05 p.m. Tuesday if the Giants defeat the Cubs in San Francisco tonight, or at 5:08 p.m. if the Cubs eliminate the Giants.

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Dodgers strike strikes against Nationals for sweep

Vin Scully made a point today of emphasizing how Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez had not allowed a two-strike hit this year. Opposing hitters were 0 for 42 entering the game with two strikes against Gonzalez, and the Dodgers tacked on six more outs with two strikes before James Loney stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning today.

Gonzalez had thrown his last 11 pitches for balls to walk three consecutive batters – Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier understandably, Juan Uribe less so – but he did get ahead of Loney 1-2.

However, Loney went with a tailing pitch and stroked it smoothly to short left-center field, driving home Kemp and Ethier to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead that held up as the final score for a sweep of the Nationals.

The Dodgers ended up with six walks, but Loney’s single was their third and final hit of the day.

In another impressive performance, Chris Capuano pitched 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and only five baserunners allowed, lowering his ERA to 2.73. Facing Jesus Flores, Josh Lindblom gave up a couple of high fly balls that threatened to tie the game, but one landed foul and the other in Tony Gwynn Jr.’s glove. Lindblom then stayed in to complete the eighth inning.

Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth inning, which combined with Don Mattingly’s pregame statement about Javy Guerra’s sudden lack of swag is sure to ignite some conversation about who wears the title of Dodger closer – as will the fact that Jansen walked two batters in a 26-pitch ninth before striking out the side. Guerra warmed up in the bullpen after Jansen began the inning with six straight balls, so I wouldn’t say there’s clarity on this issue.

Nevertheless, I’m just glad that Mattingly’s increased faith in Lindblom meant that he let him pitch the eighth, rather than take him out for no good reason. Whenever that trio of Lindblom, Guerra and Jansen pitches, I expect them to be effective over the long haul, despite the occasional hiccup. The inning that they pitch in should be the least of anyone’s worries – although the way these things go, I’m sure the calls for Lindblom to close are not far away.

Chad Moriyama has a worthwhile post on Guerra’s pitch selection, for those who wish to explore this further.

The Dodgers improved to 16-6, matching their best start since 1981, and have the best record in the National League by two games. This morning in the comments and on Twitter, I made note of a fact that was meant as pure trivia: In Matt Treanor’s two Sunday starts this year, the Dodgers had allowed 20 runs, compared with 53 total runs in their 19 other games (2.79 per game). I was hopeful that Treanor’s third Sunday start would break the pattern – and it did.

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