Throughout the course of any season, there is always a game that the fans and players just want to forget. This game was exactly that – an ugly game by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Before starter Ted Lilly was even able to record an out, the Colorado Rockies had jumped out to a four run lead and the 31,570 fans who came out to Blue Heaven on Earth for an enjoyable Monday night of baseball immediately got a bad feeling in their stomachs.
The Rockies sit atop the National League West and lead the entire league in runs, but the season is young and most attribute those numbers to playing in the thin air of Denver. Most thought that being on the road in the pitcher-friendly confines of Dodger Stadium would help bring the Rockies’ bats down to Earth.
The Rockies’ plane had mechanical issues en route to Los Angeles and was forced to stay in Phoenix for an extra eight hours and they didn’t land at LAX until after 4AM Monday morning. As a result, Rockies manager Walt Weiss cancelled batting practice to give his team some time to rest. Unfortunately, Ted Lilly decided to accommodate then and tossed three innings of batting practice.
Dexter Fowler started the game off by hitting a home run to deep left-center field and Jordan Pacheco followed that up with a single to right field. Carlos Gonzalez drove a double to deep center field, giving the Rockies two more runners in scoring position for Wilin Rosario. Ted Lilly lobbed a pitch to him and he crushed it to deep right field for a three run home run and extended the lead to 4-0. Lilly, finally realizing that he wasn’t the Rockies batting practice pitcher, dug as deep as he could and retired the next three batters, in order. Michael Cuddyer flied out to deep center field, Nolan Arenado grounded out to shortstop and Josh Rutledge flied out to right field to let Lilly off the hook.
Tyler Chatwood took the mound for the Rockies and added salt to the Dodgers’ wound by tossing an easy 1-2-3 inning. He got Carl Crawford to ground out to third base and A.J. Ellis flied out to right field for the second easy out. Adrian Gonzalez then hit a weak grounder to shortstop to end the inning.
Lilly went back out there like a trooper in the second inning and Jonathan Herrera led off the inning by grounding out to shortstop for the first out. With the pitcher coming up to bat, Dodger fans were optimistic that Lilly would have a quick inning and be able to rest his fragile arm a little. No such luck. Chatwood hit an infield single to second base for his second base hit of the season. Lilly got a little bit of revenge when he struck out Fowler for the second out of the inning but then he walked Pacheco and gave up a single to Gonzalez to load the bases for Rosario. Luckily, Lilly was able to get Rosario to ground out to third base, ending the inning without giving up another run.
Matt Kemp led off the second inning with another lackluster at-bat by grounding out to third base but Andre Ethier and Skip Schumaker followed that up with back-to-back singles to center field, breathing a little bit of life into Dodger Stadium. Unfortunately, with Hanley Ramirez fresh off a rehab assignment, Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly decided to play Luis Cruz and it was his turn to be a rally-killer. He was up to the task, lining into a double play to end the inning.
Cuddyer led off the top of the third by lining out to right-center field for a quick first out. Arenado reached first base safely when Lilly committed a fielding error, adding to the frustration of fans. Rutledge flied out to deep center field for the second out of the inning. Herrera hit a bloop single to shallow left field, advancing Arenado to second base. Once again the pitcher was coming up to bat and once again Dodger fans were hopeful Lilly could get out of his current jam. Once again, Lilly failed to do so. Chatwood hit another infield single, this time to shortstop, to load the bases for Fowler. Lilly ended up walking Fowler, extending his deficit to 5-0. Surprisingly, Lilly was able to strike out Pacheco to end the inning and strand three Rockies on the bases.
Justin Sellers led off the bottom of the third inning by striking out looking and Dodgers skipper decided three innings to late to abandon Lilly and pinch hit for him. He called upon Juan Uribe to be the pinch hitter and in true Juan Uribe fashion, he grounded out to first base. Crawford singled to center field but Ellis hit into a fielder’s choice that saw Crawford get thrown out at second base to end the inning.
Josh Wall came in to relieve and he did even worse then Lilly. He gave up a warning-track fly out to deep center field to Gonzalez for the first out of the inning. He wouldn’t fare so luckily after Gonzalez though. He gave up a double to Rosario and followed that up by issuing a walk to Cuddyer. Arenado singled to load the bases with just one out. Ruttledge slapped a single to right field, plating Rosario and keeping the bases loaded. Herrera flied out to left for the second out of the inning, bringing up Chatwood. The Rockies pitcher hit a two run single to center field with Cuddyer and Arenado crossing the plate and extending the lead to 8-0. Fowler drew another walk to load the bases for the Rockies once again. Pacheco hit a ground rule double to deep left-center field, plating Rutledge and Chatwood to bring the lead to double digits. Wall was finally able to get the final out of the inning when he got Gonzalez to pop out to right-center field.
Gonzalez led off the bottom of the fourth inning for the Dodgers by grounding out to shortstop. Chatwood then hit Kemp with a pitch before giving up a right field single to Ethier. He regrouped, however, and got Schumaker to strike out for the second out. Cruz continued to show that he is more of a lifetime minor leaguer then a big league fixture by hitting into another weak fielder’s choice for the final out.
Wall started out the top of the fifth by giving up a single to Rosario before recording the first out of the inning on a line drive by Cuddyer. He then served up Arenado’s first career home run putting the Dodgers in an even deeper hole at 12-0. After Rutledge hit a bloop single to shallow center field, Wall was able to get out of the inning by striking Herrera out and getting Chatwood to his a soft grounder that was fielded by Ellis, who easily threw him out at first base.
Chatwood tossed another perfect inning in the bottom of the fifth. He got Sellers to ground out to third base and then got Jerry Hairston, Jr., who was pinch hitting for Wall, to strike out looking. Crawford grounded out to third base for the final out.
Hairston stayed in the game, replacing Crawford in left field to give him some extra rest in a lopsided game and J.P. Howell came in to relieve Wall. Howell gave up a lead off infield single to the speedy Fowler before getting Pacheco and Gonzalez to hit into back-to-back fielder’s choices for the first two outs of the inning. Cuddyer, the only Rockie without a hit, then struck out swinging for the final out of the top half of the sixth.
Ellis struck out to start off the bottom of the sixth. Gonzalez singled to deep left-center field, which brought up the struggling Kemp. Perhaps as a sign of the desperation of the game or even perhaps his season to date, Kemp struck out on a wild pitch that allowed Gonzalez to advance to second base. But, the inning came to a close when Ethier flied out to left field.
Matt Guerrier came on to replace Howell in the top of the seventh inning and actually pitched a pretty good inning, retiring the side, in order. Arenado flied out to right field for the first out, Rutledge grounded out to third base for the second out and Herrera hit a comebacker to Guerrier, who threw him out at first base.
With the win pretty much secure, the Rockies went to their bullpen. They brought in Adam Ottavino to relieve Chatwood. Schumaker led off the inning by reaching first base safely on a fielding error by shortstop Rutledge. He then got Cruz to strike out and he got Sellers to line out to left-center field for the first two outs of the inning. Hairston then hit a two-run bomb to deep left field, plating Schumaker for the first two runs of the day for the Dodgers. Haley Ramirez then made his season debut as a pinch hitter but struck out looking to end the inning. But, the Dodgers were finally on the board, albeit trailing 12-2.
Paco Rodriguez came out for relief help and took over duties from Guerrier. Rodriguez tossed a perfect inning by striking out Ottavino and Eric Young, who replaced Fowler in center field the previous inning, and getting Pacheco to ground out to shortstop.
The Dodgers continued their show of pathetic baseball in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ellis flied out to right field and then Gonzalez and Kemp struck out swinging to end the inning.
The top of the ninth was the highlight of the game for most Dodger fans. Skip Schumaker was brought in as a relief pitcher for the second time in his career. He struggled, like everybody expected from a career second baseman, but whenever a position player gets a chance to pitch, it’s a beautiful thing. The few remaining Dodger fans in the stands got to see a rarity and even though their beloved Dodgers were getting humiliated, they could enjoy this brief oddity. Schumacker gave up a lead off single to Gonzalez and didn’t even bother to try and hold him on first – the unwritten rules made it clear that he wouldn’t try to steal a base with a ten run lead. Ryan Wheeler, in his first at-bat of the game since taking over first base duties, lined out to left field for the first out of the inning. Cuddyer then followed that up with a a fly out to right field and it looked like Schumaker was going to coast and embarrass the other pitchers. But, as we have learned, nothing ever seems to come that easily in these types of games. Arenado advanced Gonzalez to second on an infield single to second base and Rutledge drew a walk to load the bases on Schumaker. Much to the delight of Dodger fans, Schumaker got out of the jam and got Herrera to ground out to first base to end the inning without giving up a run.
The bottom of the ninth was played only because the rules required it. Truth be told, it was just a technicality that the players likely just wanted to get over with. Wilton Lopez came on to relieve Ottavino and the Dodgers’ lineup made yet another Rockies pitcher look like a Cy Young contender. He tossed a perfect inning that began with an Ethier line out to second base and finished with a Cruz fly out to center. Sandwiched between the two of them, was the pitcher spot, and Mattingly correctly allowed Schumaker to hit for himself. And even though he struck out, at least he went down swinging.
In the end, the only Dodger that seemed to have life at the end of the game was Schumaker.
When all was said and done, Colorado had pounded the Dodgers’ pitching staff with 19 hits, which is the most the Dodgers have ever given up in the Vin Scully era.
Seven different Rockies had at least two hits. Arenado, one of the organization’s top prospects playing in just his second career game, had his first three hits. Rosario and Gonzalez also had three hits apiece.
Coincidentally, the last time Schumaker pitched was in 2011 when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. His opponent? The Dodgers.
And another interesting stat is that the last time the Dodgers used a position player as a pitcher was in 2009 which is also the last time they made it to the National League Championship Series.
After the game, Chatwood sought out Kemp to apologize for hitting him with a pitch that ricocheted off his shoulder into his earflap, causing a scare in Los Angeles.
”I wanted to make a point to apologize, so I apologized, and he said no harm, no foul,” Chatwood said. ”I’ll probably try to find him tomorrow and apologize again. Whenever you hit a guy in the head, it’s scary for everybody.”
On a positive note, Hanley Ramirez is scheduled to make his first start of the season Tuesday night, which is also his bobblehead night. To make room for him on the roster, the Dodgers placed Clayton Kershaw on the bereavement list.
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