- I mentioned yesterday that even though the Phillies are up 2-0, the Dodgers have a chance to take control at Dodger Stadium. Even though Moyer and Kuroda are very similar pitchers, which should make for an interesting match-up. The Phillies especially are able to take advantage of pitchers who don't get strikeouts.
- Jeanie Zelasko: "Is this a must win?"
I will give $100 to the first announcer who answers this by just saying, "No."
- Both Kennedy and Grace are practically guaranteeing a win for the Dodgers. Why don't they just collectively fellate Joe Torre, Manny Ramirez, and Nomar Garciaparra (who is, unfortunately, starting tonight). Speaking of which:
- STARTING LINEUPS:
Phillies: 1. Rollins, SS 2. Victorino, CF 3. Utley, 2B 4. Howard, 1B 5. Burrell, LF 6. Werth, RF 7. Feliz, 3B 8. Ruiz, C 9. Moyer, P
It's amazing to me that the Phillies have gotten so much production from Ruiz and their pitchers. Talk about best-case scenario. And here's hoping that they put "third baseman" at the top of their offseason wish list, because Pedro Felix ain't it.
Even though I favor the Dodgers, I chafe at Kennedy & Grace for their outright dismissal of the Phillies.
- Dodgers: 1. Furcal, SS 2. Ethier, RF 3. Ramirez, LF 4. Martin, C 5. Garciaparra, 1B 6. Blake, 3B 7. Kemp, CF 8. DeWitt, 2B 9. Kuroda, P
Yeah, guys, this is the better lineup. I like them 1-4, but they've got some punchless guys at the bottom of the order, Kemp excepted. The Phillies' offensive advantage is their best bet. At least Torre left DeWitt in their for defense, since Kuroda gives up so many balls in play. Moyer is the same, and defense should play a bit part of the game tonight.
- Buck and McCarver ask how the Phillies are scoring runs, with the implication being that they're not really for real. The Phillies haven't been great, but they've put together some big innings. And don't get scared just because Rollins and Howard are struggling. The Phillies can win without them. You know, like they did in Game 1 . . . and Game 2. And with the Phillies' pitching, they've been able to win with just one big inning. Although that could change with Moyer (Game 3) and Blanton (Game 4) on the mound.
When did the media decide to anoint the Dodgers with oil? Granted, I like the Dodgers in L.A., even if I don't think they'll win the series. But I'm also a contrarian, and I'm not jumping on board with these wild yahoos.
- Danny DeVito and some jabroni from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia introduce the starting lineups. I understand that obnoxious cross-promotion is a fact of life. But why can't they find actors from the shows we like? Hugh Laurie could turn a starting lineup into a Shakespearean tragedy.
- Kuroda's a 33-year-old righty veteran who survives by throwing strikes and relying on his defense. The problem is that the Phillies match up well with strike-throwers who aren't big-power pitchers. Well, on paper they do.
- 1st Pitch: 8:24 Eastern. Let's hope this one lasts less than 5 hours. You know, I was watching a ballgame from 1986 the other day, and the biggest difference was the short amount of time between pitches. It makes all the difference. According to mlb.com, Kuroda's first-pitch fastball was 91 MPH. I know the TV radar guns skew high, but I don't know if the online version does as well.
- With two out, it already looks like the Phillies are aggressively going after Kuroda, including swinging at some pitcher's pitches out of the zone. That's just what Kuroda and the Dodgers need.
- Kuroda hit 93 on his first pitch to Utley. His second pitch was high and to the screen. McCarver says that Kuroda might be sending a message to the Phillies after Billingsley failed to do so in Game 2. I think this facet of the game of baseball is a bunch of crap.
- Utley, a truly disciplined hitter, lays off the pitcher's pitches and walks. Kuroda is trying to get ahead with fastballs and then get hitters out with the sliders and sinkers. Kuroda throws another high one over the catcher's head. Was that a "message," too? Or do pitchers sometimes throw wild balls for normal, everyday reasons?
- Utley gets called out stealing with Ryan Howard hitting. My Dad asks, "You don't steal with Ryan Howard at the plate, do you?" I pause and respond, "Ideally, no." Not only that, but it didn't look like Utley was out.
- Lest you think that I'm really good at recognizing pitches, I'm cheating with the mlb.com Gameday webcast.
- Mary Hart announces the Dodger lineup. That's swell. Who's next? Carlos Mencia?
- Furcal comes up swinging against Moyer and hits the second pitch hard for a single. Aggressiveness is good if you're getting strikes you can hit. As I say that, Ethier singles, and the Dodgers quickly have two runners on.
- We'll see how Moyer pitches Manny. Right in the zone, and Manny singles in a run. There's a wild throw from left that advances both runners. McCarver correctly points out that Burrell is crazy to throw home in this situation; Furcal is going to score, and you need to hold the runners and keep that double play in order. To be fair, Moyer can get in trouble quickly, but he can get out of it just as quickly. It's the double-edged sword of livin' on the edge of the strike zone.
- Moyer hits Martin right in the knee to load the bases. Sometimes you just can't catch a break. That got him right on the side of the knee, which is conveniently unprotected by a kneecap or anything. Moyer's already getting a visit from the pitching coach.
- Garciaparra takes a "fastball" on the inner half and nearly hits a grand slam. I'm not expert on fooling the hitters, but I think I can safely say that Moyer isn't thus far. Moyer recovers with a nice slider and then apparently a cutter to strike out Nomar. Big out. It's times like these that you wish you had good hitters in the #5 and #6 spots. Moyer seems to be adjusting and using the Dodgers' aggressiveness against them, staying away from the middle of the plate.
- Having said that, Casey Blake takes a perfectly good pitch and swats it to right field for an RBI single. McCarver says, "This is how every Dodger wants to face Jamie Moyer." He's right.
- Moyer goes 3-0 to Kemp, who lays off the borderline pitches. Clay Condrey is warming up in the Phillies' pen, and I guess that's a comforting thought for Philadelphia. Somehow, Moyer comes back to strike out Kemp with a beautiful pitch, down-and-in and right on the black.
- Moyer gets ahead of DeWitt 0-2 then throws him the same changeup in the dirt twice in a row. The next pitch is up and out over the plate, and DeWitt rockets it into the corner to clear the bases.
- Kuroda grounds out to end the inning. We've seen the best and worse of Jamie Moyer in this inning ,as we've seen him adapt to the Dodgers' aggressiveness while still leaving too many good strikes up in the zone. It also may be the last we've seen of Moyer.
- Ryan Howard gets his first hit of the series, and on a breaking ball, no less. Take that, Pedro Cerrano.
- Burrell has a good at-bat, displaying some solid plate discipline. He just barely missed a homer but has to settle for a fly out.
- A Feliz single drives in Ryan Howard, and I suspect that we're going to see some more scoring yet. At least until we get some bullpen aces out there.
- Jamie Moyer: Take 2! Umm . . . take 3, as Rafael Furcal sends the first pitch over the center field fence. Suddenly, Condrey doesn't sound like such a bad idea. Although to be fair, that was on the outer half, and I don't know how a light-hitting shortstop with a bad back sent that over the center field fence. Bye-bye Jamie. It's too bad that a great guy who had a pretty good season should be so ill-treated in October.
- Today on Fox News: Why was the nation so unaffected by reports of torture by U.S. Troops? Tomorrow on Fox: A new season of 24!
- After walking Manny, Condrey throws one up and in to Martin. Martin gives him a long look, but does nothing. 10-1 the Dodgers retaliate, and soon.
- Kuroda does a better job of mixing up his pitches and gets a generous third strike call to retire Jimmy Rollins.
- There it is. Kuroda's first pitch to Victorino is right over his head. Victorino backs off and gesticulates, "Hey, throw at my ribs or my back. Don't throw at my head!" Because there are rules to games for people with far too much testosterone.
- After the inning is over, the benches empty and everybody starts jawing. Manny "Mr. Congeniality" Ramirez is right at the front, yelling. Why did everyone forget, once he went to L.A., that Manny is an asshole?
Well, all that walking around sure accomplishes something. These two teams are something else. The two people most likely to actually fight are coaches Mariano Duncan and Davey Lopes.
- Happ comes in for the Phillies, and Nomar Garciaparra swings at the first pitch (which is a contradiction in terms), singling. Why does he get pitches to hit, especially now that he's a shell of his former self.
- I really this whole battle for "respect" isn't pointed out as some sort of defining moment for the series. Because if I have to read that article, I will vomit.
- Chris Myers tells us what was going on in the Dodger dugout after Martin's at-bat. You know, I just realized that the dugout reporters in baseball games are now acting as de facto spies on their respective benches.
- Kuroda is indeed doing a better job of mixing up his pitches and keeping the Phillies off-balance.
- Ryan Howard grounds one right into the Boudreau Shift and is retired. Why do I never see that shift put on for a right-handed hitter? Am I just not observant? Is there something about righties that makes them less pull-happy? Or are we shifting for the wrong people? Inquiring minds would like to know.
- Burrell strikes out swinging. Kuroda fed him sliders, and Burrell bit.
- Another good thing about Dodger Stadium: you get to see real celebrities in the crowd, not just planted TV "stars" from new FOX shows (and I still love Jon Lovitz, so he's a celebrity in my book).
- Happ has looked pretty good, but eight pitches later, Manny and Russell Martin are on base via back-to-back walks. Let's see where this first pitch is to Nomar . . . on the outside corner, but Nomar laid off. Ehh. The next one is middle-in, and Nomar lines a single to left. Manny rounds third to score and it looks like Burrell has him thrown out, but the throw gets cut off to nail Martin going to third. It looked like the throw would get Manny at home. But then the thinking might be that it's a 5-run lead already, let's just take the hit and make sure the inning is over.
- Kuroda has really been a godsend for L.A. so far. When I saw Lowe and Billingsley go down in flames, my first thought was that the Dodgers were toast. Then I realized that the Dodgers had better pitches in Games 3 and 4 and were playing at home. Kuroda is better than Moyer, if only by a hair and Derek Lowe is far better than Joe Blanton, Game 1 notwithstanding. I think a better move would be to start Clayton Kershaw, but that's just me.
- Kuroda's working quickly, which is great for L.A. Especially since the Phils had to go to the 'pen in the 2nd.
- Is it just me, or does that astrophysicist from the Sharp Aquos commercial look like one of the Pod People?
- Do we really need the cameras to show us the crowd doing the wave?
- In an odd move, Matt Kemp tries to steal second after singling and gets picked off. My first though is that you're up by 6, what gives? Then I figure that 6 runs isn't much against the Phillies, and anyways, it's better to steal with a poor hitter up than a good one.
- So Taguchi pinch-hits to lead off and grounds out. Nothing personal, but what about Taguchi's baseball skills is appealing? What role does he really fill, especially on a good team that should have better options.
- Rollins flies out quickly, and Kuroda has two out. Kuroda's at just 70 pitches.
- Pedro Feliz makes a good play on a grounder by Furcal to retire him at first. That's why he's still in the business.
- Finally, some action for the Phillies. Utley leads off with a double (a slapped ball the other way), and the Phillies have a chance to score. Howard lines a first-pitch single so hard into left that it catches Utley by surprise, so he only makes it to third. Dodger pitching coach Honeycutt comes out and good timing, too, as the Phillies are starting to hit Kuroda's pitches.
- Burrell bloops a single to center for an RBI, and it's 7-2. Well, Howard's the only one to hit the ball on the button, but the Phillies will finally take some good luck. Torre decides to take out Kuroda, which seems premature to me, especially since the Phillies have the bottom of the order coming up. And a six-run lead.
- Cory Wade comes in. Wade had an excellent season as a middle reliever with the Dodgers. He won't show up on anyone's Rookie of the Year ballots, but he's a heck of a pitcher. It's still more proof that the Dodgers' farm system can produce anyone anywhere, or so it seems. With Broxton, Wade, and Meloan, the Dodger bullpen is doing just fine, thank you.
- Werth is called out on a check-swing that I swear he didn't actually swing at. Did you know that the rulebook is astonishingly vague about what counts as an actual swing? I can't confirm that, but I do remember Peter Gammons bringing up the topic on Baseball Tonight. I wish I had my rulebook handy . . .
- Manuel brings in the lefty Dobbs to pinch-hit for Ruiz, but Torre leaves the lefty Kuo in the bullpen. Hmm . . . but Dobbs is unlucky; he hits the ball up the middle, but that's exactly where Furcal had him played. Inning over.
- BUCK: "It's gotta burn Red Sox fans to see Manny Ramirez doing what he's doing."
Yeah, Joe, because Jason Bay is such a piece of sh*t. (rolls eyes)
- Durbin hits Russell Martin, but Durbin doesn't get ejected, even though both benches were warned. The Dodgers get all pissy, but really, that's not a beanball; it broke nearly a foot before it hit his elbow.
- The WebMD Injury Report shows us where a "left knee" is. This is all that the MLB can get for advertising, folks . . .
- Coste tries to throw out Russell Martin stealing from his knees. It's a great play, except that pitcher Chad Durbin had to absolutely hit the deck to avoid getting hit. That'll keep you honest.
- Chris Coste makes his NLCS debut with a single (it sucks that Coste didn't get more playing time this year; he's a much better hitter than Ruiz). Jimmy Rollins has a chance to get his bat going . . . and strikes out.
- Why, oh why, oh whyohwhyohwhyohwhy is Angel Berroa playing in the postseason? Was Roger Dorn unavailable?
- J.C. Romero strikes out Andre Ethier to end the inning, but as part of his celebratory hop off the mound, he appears to hurt his ankle. Oopsie,
- The Dodgers bring in big ol' Jonathon Broxton to finish off the game and starts with a 99-MPH fastball to Ryan Howard. If the Dodgers are serious about improving their offense this off-season, they should consider trading Takashi Saito. He would bring in a good return on just one year of a contract. Plus, they've got the guys in the bullpen to get it done, and they need hitting a lot more than they need pitching.
- Howard grounds out and Burrel K's, bringing the game down to Jayson Werth. Broxton is just filthy tonight. Werth singles to prolong things, but Feliz pops out to end it.
Conclusion? Other than Jamie Moyer, the pitchers did an excellent job tonight. I expected some runs to be scored with these two offense facing contact pitchers, but other than the bang-up job the Dodgers performed on Moyer, that wasn't the case. We saw some good pitching on display.
The Dodgers have gotten back more than just momentum. They've got a big edge going into tomorrow's game, and if they can win that, it's all even again. I still give the Phillies the edge, but tonight's win was a big one for the Dodgers. Maybe it wasn't a "must-win," as Jeanie Zelasko wanted to call it, but it was pretty close.
I hope to do this again.