“That was a quite a ninth inning and quite a way to win a win the game. ”
That was the postgame quote from Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley after the Dodgers managed to pull out a sloppy 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks thanks to a ninth inning balk by Esmerling Vasquez. The last game to be decided on a balk was on September 9, 2008 when the Braves topped the Rockies in the 10th inning because of a balk by Taylor Buchholz. The last time the Dodgers won a balk was nearly 21 years to the day when they beat the Mets on May 28, 1989.
All things considered, the Dodgers should have lost this game. Billingsley got rocked in the first two innings, giving up a two-run bomb to Justin Upton in the first and then getting taken deep by Chris Young and Chris Snyder in the second. Billingsley would get it together after that, though, as he struck out a season-high 11 batters and did not allow a walk in eight innings. After the four-run head start, the Dodgers finally got on the board in the second thanks to Manny Ramirez’s 550th career homerun. After a Matt Kemp RBI single, the Dodgers took advantage of a double error by D’Backs second baseman Kelly Johnson and managed to tie the game up at four.
Then, in the ninth, Arizona caught a break thanks to some boneheaded baserunning by first baseman James Loney, who got caught in a rundown after foolishly trying to make a play for third.
“I don’t know what he was thinking. We had some good momentum going and that play just took the wind out of our sails.” said manager Joe Torre.
However, Loney would get bailed out of wearing the goat horns by Vasquez. Facing catcher Russell Martin with a 2-2 count, Vasquez was called for a balk after Blake and third base coach Larry Bowa did everything short of throwing chairs to get the attention of second base umpire Tim Tschida to point out Vasquez’s balk. Blake trotted in for the winning run and the Diamondbacks showed everyone in Dodger Stadium why they are a 20-32 ballclub.
Closer Jonathan Broxton punctuated a stellar May by striking out two in the ninth and taking home the win. Broxton notched two of his three wins as well as 12 of his 13 saves in May after a rocky April. The Dodgers also welcomed back left fielder Andre Ethier yesterday, after missing 15 games with a broken pinkie. Ethier went 0-for-4 in the contest but the double error on his grounder tied the game at four.
While the Dodgers were lucky enough to pull out the win against a team that couldn’t stop shooting itself in the foot, the degree of difficulty over the next couple weeks is about to increase. After playing two more against the lowly D’Backs, L.A. will host a four game series against the now-first place Atlanta Braves. After that, they get the first place St. Louis Cardinals for three games at Dodger Stadium. Then, they will play a three-game interleague series with their fellow Los Angeles residents, the slumping Angels(who are only 2.5 back in the AL West and can easily be in first by time they travel to play the Dodgers).
The Dodgers have their lineup in tact for the first time in a while. Billingsley’s performance yesterday, sans the first two innings, showed that this team has some talent at the top of the rotation. These next twelve games at home is where the Dodgers need to show their mettle and play contender-worthy baseball against some teams they may see in October(especially with the first-place Padres having to spend most of that same stretch on the road against the Mets and Phillies).
Yesterday, the Dodgers got lucky. Starting today, they need to be dominant.
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.