Dodgers Give Aliana Wheeler the Perfect Birthday Gift, First Place
By Scott Andes
Just one year ago today, Stacie gave birth to her second child named Aliana Wheeler only hours after she had covered a Dodger win over the Dbacks. In that game Matt Kemp made history by smacking his 30th home run of the season, and becoming the first Dodger since Raul Mondesi to go 30/30. Stacie wasn’t due for another week, and we both joked that a Bison blast would send Stacie into labor. Well it happened, and now just a year later, we celebrated Little Aliana’s first birthday.
On this important day the Dodgers gave little Aliana the best birthday gift she could ever receive, a sweep of the Giants in San Francisco, and first place. Today the Dodgers beat the Giants 4-0, and swept the Giants, to move into a flatfooted tie for first place. If you remember during our last visit to At&t Park, the Dodgers were shut-out in all three games, this time, turn about is fair play, as the boys in blue shut-out the Giants for the second game in a row.
Clayton Kershaw out-dueled Ryan Vogelsong to pitch his fifth career shut-out, and seventh career win over the Giants. Kersh allowed just five hits and one walk while whiffing seven during his second complete game shut-out of the season, to improve to 8-6. Vogelsong lost at home for the first time since May. Ryan pitched six frames, allowing four runs, three earned, and took the loss. Vogelsong came into this game with a 1.41 ERA at home.
The Dodger offense pounded out 12 hits, while plating four runs. They scored two runs in the top of the fourth, off two singles, a Hanley Ramirez RBI single, a pop fly sun error, and an RBI double from Luis Cruz. Then scored two more in the top of the eighth. Luis Cruz had two hits, two RBI, and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. A.J. Ellis walked four, yes four times. Mark Ellis also had two hits, and an RBI single.
Top of the first. Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound for the Giants. And retires Mark Ellis, and Juan Rivera on ground outs. Matt Kemp pops up to right, and Vogelsong has a very easy 123 first inning. In the bottom of the first, Clayton Kershaw gets Gregor Blanco to ground out, Ryan Theriot to fly out to center, and Melky Cabrera lines out to Kemp.
Andre Ethier pops out in the top of the second. Hanley Ramirez singles to left, for the Dodger’s first hit. However James Loney whiffs looking, while Buster Posey throws out Hanley trying to steal for a double play. Kershaw whiffs Posey to start the bottom of the second. Angel Pagan reaches on a bumbling error from Luis Cruz. Kershaw picks of Pagan, who fell asleep at first base. Marco Scutaro singles over Cruz’s head. Brandon Belt bloops a hit to center. Now how important was that pick-off? Kershaw leaps off the mound to spear Brandon Crawford’s grounder to record the third out, and get the Dodgers out of the inning. The game remains scoreless.
Top of the third. Cruz grounds out. A.J. Ellis walks, because AJ gonna AJ. Kershaw attempts to sacrifice AJ over, and instead bunts into a force out. Kershaw pops up the bunt, and Scutaro makes a great play, charging in bare handing the bunt on the hop, and throwing out AJ at second. You know what I always say about bunting, I hate it. Even though Kershaw is a good bunter normally, and he’s the pitcher, I still hate it. It’s a failed strategy that rarely if ever works and or leads to runs, but I digress. My hatred for bunting is an argument for another day. Anyways, Mark Ellis whiffs on a called third strike, much like a statue, and Vogelsong gets out of it.
In the bottom of the third, Vogelsong’s bat explodes during a slow roller to first base. Blanco draws a one out walk. Then Blanco steals second, AJ’s throw was right on, but Blanco kicks the ball out of Ellis’s glove. I hate that by the way, you know when a runner slides right into the second baseman’s glove, and kicks the ball out of the glove. I think the runners should be called out for interference, but that’s a rule change discussion for another day. Theriot whiffs for the second out. Kersh gets Cabrera whiffing, and the Giants are denied from scoring once again.
The Dodgers break the tie in the top of the fourth, plating two runs, on two singles, a sac fly, an error, and an RBI double. Juan Rivera leads off with a single just over the leaping Crawford. Kemp singles up the middle, moving Rivera to second. Ethier’s fly ball to center, allows Rivera to tag up to third, and the Dodgers have first and third for Ramirez. Hanley grounds into a force out to third, which allows Rivera to score from third, for the Dodger’s first run. Theriot’s throw to first was just a tad late, and Hanley just beats the throw by a step. Also note, Kemp’s take-out slide also helped. Loney pops up to Scutaro, but he loses the ball in the sun, and drops it for an error. We all snicker of course, but it happens to the best of them, also keep in mind, Scutaro just joined the Giants, so he is not used to playing in At&t park. The defensive miscue puts runners at first and second, and extends the inning. Cruz doubles down the left field line to drive in Hanley to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. AJ is walked intentionally to load the bases for Kershaw, who whiffs to end the frame.
Kershaw opens up the bottom of the fourth inning with a two run lead. Posey flies out to right. Pagan smokes a line drive single to left. Scutaro grounds into an inning ending double play, to get Kershaw out the jam.
Mark Ellis flies out to deep center for the first out in the top of the fifth. Rivera grounds out. Kemp pops out, to complete an easy inning for Vogelsong and the Giants. In the bottom of the fifth, Belt pops out to Cruz. Kershaw whiffs Crawford looking for his fourth whiff. Vogelsong grounds out for a 123 inning for Kershaw.
Ethier singles in the top of the sixth. Ramirez flies out to center. Loney singles to center, moving Ethier to second. Cruz whiffs for the second out. AJ walks to load the bases. Vogelsong goes full to Kershaw before whiffing him to wiggle out of another jam, and keep the Dodger lead 2-0. In the bottom of the sixth, Blanco singles up the middle. Theriot’s little soft flare liner goes right to Mark Ellis, and he doubles up Pagan off of first base. Pagan got caught sleeping. Cabrera whiffs, but AJ drops the ball, and it rolls away to allow Cabrera to reach on the passed ball. Not to worry though, Posey’s force out ends the inning.
Clay Hensley takes over for Vogelsong in the top of the seventh, and promptly serves up a single to Mark Ellis. Rivera grounds into a force play. Bison slaps a base hit to left, to send Rivera to second. San Francisco makes a pitching change and brings in lefty Jeremy Affeldt. He does his job by getting Ethier to ground into a double play to hold the Dodgers at bay, no pun intended.
A scary moment in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Scutaro smokes a line drive off of Kershaw’s glove and wrist deflecting to Mark Ellis who records the out. Sue Falsone rushes out to the mound to make sure Kershaw is ok. Fortunately it hit his glove hand, and not his pitching hand, he is ok. Kershaw is a warrior! Kersh whiffs Belt like a rented mule to end the inning.
Affeldt whiffs Ramirez in the top of the eighth. Loney doubles off of the over-shifted infield. Affeldt uncorks a wild pitch to send Loney to third. Cruz singles through the hole at short to score Loney. 3-0 Blue. That’s the second hit, and RBI for Cruz. AJ walks. Kershaw tries to bunt, but whiffs. The Giants take out Affeldt, and bring in George Kontos. Mark Ellis pokes a single into center, Cruz scores, AJ goes to third, and mark takes second on the throw home. That’s the second hit for Ellis. Rivera’s pop up ends the inning.
Pinch-hitter Justin Christian lines out to Tony Gwynn in left field, who was put into the game for defensive reasons in the bottom of the eighth. You can see why. Nice play Tony. Kershaw gets Blanco to pop out for the third out, and Kersh is pitching a gem. Santiago Casilla pitches the top of the ninth. Kemp grounds out. Ethier doubles over Pagan’s head in deep center field. That’s Ethier’s second hit of the game. Ramirez whiffs on a called third strike. The Giants bring in lefty Javier Lopez to get Loney out. He does, getting him to ground out, and we go to the bottom of the ninth.
Kershaw comes out to finish his game. Theriot flies out to left. Kershaw whiffs Cabrera on a wicked change-up, for the second out. Cabrera goes 0 for 4 with three whiffs. Posey singles off of Hanley’s glove. Pagan whiffs to end the game, and the Dodgers sweep the Giants, and move back into first place!
The Dodgers had never shut-out the Giants in back to back games in San Francisco since moving to Los Angeles. Kershaw needed 116 pitches to dispose of the Giants.
The Dodgers finish their ten game road trip with a 7-3 record, and improve to 56-47, and are now back in first place. The boys in blue will come back home tomorrow to open up a nine game homestand. They will start it with a three game set with Arizona. The big show Aaron Harang will draw Trevor Cahill.
This was the perfect birthday gift for little Aliana. I can’t think of a more perfect day. The Dodgers have some momentum now, and let’s see if they can ride this wave to a nice little winning streak. Remember that word? Momentum. It has shifted in the Dodger’s favor. Sometimes it’s everything in Baseball. Join us tomorrow for another exciting night of Dodger Baseball. This sweep’s for you Aliana! Go Blue.