For Dodgers manager Joe Torre, it was a trip down memory lane. The great Mariano Rivera on the mound with the ball and the lead, looking to close the door. The problem for Torre, however, was that this time he would be on the receiving end of Mo’s magic instead of the benefactor.
There needs to be no recap of the previous two games between the Dodgers and Yankees. Tonight’s epic 10-inning battle(or chokejob, depending on what side you’re on) summed up both teams beautifully. The Dodgers were all over the defending champions early, jumping out to a 5-0 lead thanks to some solid pitching by ace Clayton Kershaw and some untimely errors by longtime Yankee great Andy Pettite.
Then, the inconsistency that has plagued the Dodgers all season sunk in. Up 6-2 going into the ninth inning, Torre opted to bring in closer Jonathan Broxton in a non-save situation to turn out the lights. 48 pitches and four runs later, we were headed to extra innings. It was a testament of both the greatness of the Yankees and the overconfidence of the Dodgers. With the game seemingly in hand, Torre took slugger Manny Ramirez(who has the 2nd highest batting average of any opposing Yankees player in Yankees history) out of the game and replaced him with ancient Garrett Anderson. Obviously, Torre didn’t see a ninth-inning collapse by his usually lights-out closer in the works but the Dodgers missed Ramirez’s big bat when they absolutely needed a run in the bottom of the ninth against Rivera. They especially missed Ramirez’s presence when Anderson was tossed for arguing balls and strikes on a strike two call that, upon further review, was right on the black.
Torre’s reputation for having a bit too much faith in his bullpen will always haunt him. Clearly, he saw something in reliever George Sherrill that nobody else saw because he may have been the only person in the building who didn’t see Sherrill serving up the game-winning homer to sure-fire MVP front-runner Robinson Cano in the 10th coming. Sherrill has been a shell of himself since coming over from Baltimore. He’s no longer “The Brim Reaper”. He’s Byung-Hyun Kim with an epic goatee.
Now, alot will be made of the questionable missed call on probably should have been strike three against Yankees rookie Colin Curtis in the ninth. That, paired with the two calls that got Anderson and catcher Russell Martin tossed, will lead the charge on Monday morning as Dodger fans and L.A. media will try to call foul. The fact of the matter is, Broxton blew it. Even if he gets the punch-out of Curtis, he would have still had to get another out to get the W and it still wouldn’t have excused the three runs he gave up prior to Curtis’ at-bat(including a two-run single to virtual unknown Chase Huffman in the previous at-bat). Also, the calls that went against Anderson and Martin were legit. ESPN’s replays showed Rivera’s pitches were right on the lines andthat the umps, who have rightfully taken a beating all season for bad calls, were actually correct this time around.
So where does this leave us? Well, for the Yankees, they are the team to beat in not just the American League but in all of Major League Baseball. You can talk up the Tampa Bay Rays all you want. We’ll see how Joe Maddon’s boys do against the Bronx Bombers when it counts down the stretch. As for the Dodgers, they get Chad Billingsley back tomorrow andthey are still in the hunt for Mariners hurler Cliff Lee. With nobody running away with the National League, the Dodgers can still emerge as the team to beat in the NL if they show a bit more consistency and quit shooting themselves in the foot. Taking two of three from the defending champs would have been a huge boost for a Dodgers team that had been getting slaughtered in inter-league play and was coming off three straight terrible performances in series against Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Boston. Instead, the Dodgers now sit five back in the NL West andwill start a series against San Francisco tomorrow while trying to put tonight’s debacle behind them.
Maybe in their pursuit of a bonafide ace like Lee, the Dodgers can also find another dependable arm for the bullpen that the team can rely on as L.A. tries to make a stretch run. That is, of course, if there’s a bullpen left after Torre is done with it.
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.