A Wild Ninth and a Kemp Walk-Off Homerun in the Tenth-Harper Who?
Dodgers 4 9 0
Nationals 3 8 1
WP- Wright (1-0)
LP- Gorzelanny (1-1)
HR- LaRoche (4), Kemp (11)
With identical records of 14-6, the Dodgers and Nationals hoped to edge the other out in game two of the three-game series. The Nationals’ dugout was filled with media as they clamored to take a look at the hyped up #1 prospect set to make his MLB debut at Dodger Stadium tonight. The eyes of the world would be on Bryce Harper tonight as he dipped his toes within the water that is the Major Leagues. Will he pan out or will he fizzle into oblivion like many hyped prospects of yesteryear? Little did everyone know that the Dodgers would pull out a come-from-behind win, and a Matt Kemp walk-off homerun in the bottom of the tenth inning would overshadow Bryce’s big day.
Chad Billingsley, looking to rebound from his awful outing in Houston, quickly gets the first two outs. Jayson Werthless hits one into right field for a two-out single. Adam LaRoche grounds out, and Jerry Hairston Jr. makes a nice play to his right side to throw him out.
Stephen Strasburg, the young right-hander, goes to the mound for the Nats. Hype swirled around him just a couple of years ago before he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. Tony Gwynn Jr. gets a ground single to right on one out. Strasburg gets Matt Kemp to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Bills starts off the second inning by whiffing Rick Ankiel and Danny Espinosa. Bryce Harper comes up amidst boos from fans at Dodger Stadium, and quietly hits a weak dribbler comebacker which Bills easily scoops up and throws to first for the final out. I sense this hype will slowly fade out.
Ethier strikes out against Strasburg to begin the bottom of the second inning for the Dodgers. Hairston flies out, and James Loney comes up with a two-out single to right. Juan Uribe gets hits by the pitch on his left elbow. Luckily he wears a protector on that elbow. A.J. Ellis strikes out swinging, and the runners are stranded.
Wilson Ramos draws a walk in the top of the third for Washington. Ramos moves over to second on a comebacker by Strasburg. Ian Desmond pops a ball over the head of Jerry Hairston into shallow right field. Jhair reaches up and grabs it as he falls. He then throws the ball to Dee covering second base to double up Ramos! Great play by Hairston. I’m really enjoying watching him play out there.
Chad Billingsley is easily whiffed by Strasburg for the first out in the bottom of the third. Gordon grounds out to first. Tony Gwynn Jr. flairs a single in the middle of a trio of Nationals who can’t get to it in shallow center. Strasburg blows a 96 mph fastball past Matt Kemp to strike him out and end the frame. Scorin’ is going to be real difficult tonight.
Chad Billingsley, pitching very well, sends down the Nats in order in the fourth.
The Dodgers go down 1-2-3 in the fourth as Ethier grounds out, JHair can’t catch up with a Strasburg fastball, and he goes down on strikes, and Loney’s deep fly ball is caught by Ankiel.
Still no score going to the fifth inning. Rick Ankiel singles to right to lead off for just the second hit of the night for the Nationals. Danny Espinosa chases a bad ball in the dirt and goes down on strikes for the first out. In Bryce Harper’s second at bat, he flies out to left field. Wilson Ramos hits a comebacker to Bills for the third out.
Juan Uribe’s line drive goes right into the glove of Strasburg for the first out in the bottom of the fifth. A.J. Ellis singles to right on a 0-2 count. That’s the fourth Dodger hit on the night. Bills cannot get the bunt down, and he strikes out by bunting foul. Donnie should have just let him swing. For the second time in the inning, Strasburg spears a line drive. This time Gordon is the one who makes out.
Strasburg, helping out his own cause in the sixth, doubles to lead off the inning. Strasburg takes second on Desmond’s groundball. Steve Lombardozzi grounds out to first, and Strasburg has to stay on third. Jayson Werth grounds to third, and Uribe lobs a high throw to first. Luckily Loney is at the other end to reach up and get it, otherwise it was a for sure error on Uribe and the run would have scored. Phew!
There are still zeros on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth. Tony Gwynn Jr. grounds out, and Matt Kemp strikes out swinging for the first two outs. Ethier grounds out as the Dodgers go down quietly in order once again.
Chad Billingsley cannot stretch out his luck in the seventh, and Adam LaRoche leads off the inning with a line drive solo shot to right field. 1-0 Nationals. Bills comes back and strikes out both Ankiel and Espinosa. Bryce Harper then gets his first Major League hit, a double to center field. He throws his batting helmet off as he runs to second base. Billingsley intentionally walks Ramos to get to Strasburg who strikes out. So Bills ends up striking out the side, but the homer by LaRoche breaks the scoreless streak.
Strasburg hits Hairston on the hand to start the bottom of the seventh. Sue Falsone comes out to check his hand, but he stays in the game. *Later we find out he suffered a contusion on his hand, but x-rays were negative.* Loney’s high chopper is too much for Strasburg and Espinosa to handle, and Espinosa draws an error. There are now two men on with nobody out. Juan Uribe strikes out. A.J. Ellis singles to left field, and Bryce Harper guns a throw to the plate. He obviously has a great arm. Hairston sort of swipes at Ramos’ hand as he slides across the plate, and Ramos can’t hang on to the ball which bounces away. He’s safe, and the Dodgers tie up the game! Juan Rivera, pinch-hitting, grounds into a double play to end the inning.
Chad Billingsley pitched 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts on 106 pitches.
Josh Lindblom comes in to pitch the eighth inning for the Dodgers. Ian Desmond and Lombardozzi ground out for the first two outs. Jayson Werth flies out to end the eighth.
Stephen Strasburg calls it a night after pitching 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 run, no walks, and 9 strikeouts on 101 pitches.
Tyler Clippard will pitch the bottom of the eighth for Washington. Gordon grounds out, and he is clearly struggling at the plate. Gwynn strikes out swinging. Matt Kemp walks, and he steals second easily. Davey Johnson, still angry from the seventh inning when Hairston scored, calls time for a meeting on the mound. Ethier strikes out for the third time tonight, and he ends up going 0 for 4.
Once again the Dodger bullpen melts down in the ninth inning. Scott Elbert is brought in to pitch the ninth for the Dodgers. LaRoche singles, and I ask myself why they even pitch to him anymore. Ankiel bunts, and Uribe makes a nice backhand play on the ball in foul territory throws to second to get LaRoche out on a force play. For some reason Donnie decides to take out Elbert, and Javy Guerra is then brought in to pitch to Espinosa. This is the first time he has pitched since he was hit in the face by that Brian McCann line drive. Espinosa singles, and there are runners at first and third with one out. Bryce Harper’s fly ball scores Ankiel, and the Nationals take a 2-1 lead on Harper’s first career RBI. Wilson Ramos then singles which nets the Nats another run, 3-1. Ramos takes second on the errant throw. Pinch hitter Chad Tracy is intentionally walked. This is the third ninth inning meltdown from Guerra. Has he caught the Broxton bug? Ian Desmond strikes out, and the torturous inning is finally over.
Henry Rodriguez comes out of the Washington bullpen to try to slam the door shut on the Dodgers in the ninth. Instead, he gives Guerra a run for his money in the meltdown department. Mark Ellis leads off with a nice clean single. Ellis takes second on a wild pitch. Loney comes up with a single, and there are suddenly runners at first and third with nobody out. With Uribe at bat, a fan apparently runs on to the field from the right field bleachers toward Harper. Juan Uribe then gets a clutch ground-rule double! Ellis scores, and it’s 3-2 in favor of the Nats. Runners are now on second and third with nobody out. A.J. Ellis whiffs for the first out. Loney is out at the plate on a pathetic Adam Kennedy pinch hit grounder. A WILD PITCH with Dee Gordon at the plate scores Uribe for the tying run, and it’s 3-3! Another wild pitch on a strikeout by Dee allows the winning run (Kennedy) to reach third. Davey Johnson has finally seen enough from Rodriguez, and he is taken out of the game. Tom Gorzelanny will attempt to keep the winning run from scoring with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Tony Gwynn Jr. hits a line drive right into Adam LaRoche’s glove, and Tony slams down his helmet. We are going to extra innings.
Jamey Wright is asked to pitch the tenth inning for the Dodgers. Lombardozzi strikes out. Jaysen Werth strikes out. LaRoche grounds out, and Wright sends ’em down in order!
Bottom of the tenth. Matt Kemp. Homerun.
What a fantastic game. We had a pitching duel between Stephen Strasburg and Chad Billingsley through seven, and then two shaky bullpens exchanged wild ninth innings. Javy allowed two runs in the top of the ninth to break the tie, but Rodriguez’s three wild pitches in the bottom of the ninth would allow the Dodgers to tie it back up. Jamey Wright really should get credit for pitching a perfect tenth inning. Matt Kemp does what he does, and blasts his 11th homerun which now gives him the Dodger record for most homeruns in April. The Dodgers win the series, and they are now 15-6. I have to say, this was one of the best games of the year so far.
Tomorrow afternoon the final game of the series will feature Chris Capuano versus Gio Gonzalez at 1:10 pm. Let’s go for the sweep!
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