A victory in the finale makes all the difference in the world. The Dodgers eked out a 2-1 win Thursday to salvage one in their three-game series at San Francisco, and in the process backed scores of fans away from the ledge.
Vin Scully didn't describe the faithful as "sullen and mutinous" as he sometimes does (yes, I have a workaround to hear Vin), but most everyone I know needed a Los Angeles escape from the Barbary Coast with at least the one W in the pocket.
They got it, by the hair on Brian Wilson's chinny chin chin, but it wasn't easy. The Dodgers fumbled and bumbled their way to losses by scores of 3-2 and 2-1 Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, doing everything wrong that could possibly be done wrong.
Matt Kemp dropped a room service fly ball. Kemp got picked off first base moments later. Don Mattingly wasted his one-time-only replay challenge on the pickoff for no apparent reason. Juan Uribe was thrown out from San Leandro to Hayward when either he or Drew Butera missed a hit-and-run sign.
Carl Crawford continued to make out while seeing all of one whole pitch from whatever man happens to be on the mound at the time. Tim Federowicz bunted into a double play. Mattingly was out-maneuvered at every turn by the smarter man, Giants' skipper Bruce Bochy.
Kenley Jansen blew one save and almost two, which means either he's human, slumping or the best closer the world has ever known, whose only crime is an unfortunate BABIP (batting average balls in play - and oh, what a statistic for seamheads that is).
(Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown provides all the translation you may require: "'Seamhead,' incidentally, used to be a complimentary description of a writer who couldn't wait to get to the ballpark and cover ball. Now it's a pinhead with a calculator and his back to the game.")
The Dodgers left men at third with less than two out. They hit into easy double plays with the bases loaded. There were wild pitches, wild throws and booted grounders, with nearly every man (except for Dee Gordon) guilty of being either in a funk or ill-prepared beyond imagination.
In yesterday's game, Puig dropped a fly ball but managed a force play anyway. Gordon kicked a grounder twice but got an out anyway. Adrian Gonzalez got himself caught off second on a comebacker while Scott Van Slyke ran into a double play trying to take the extra base. A Giant struck out to open the ninth but reached base safely anyway.
Tellingly, not a baseball writer in America outside of this one uttered a peep about Carl Crawford missing the cutoff man. Not a one.
On the bright side Gordon has been a revelation at second base, hitting, seeing pitches in smart at bats, running, and making plays in the field. Los Angeles was presented with two fine starts - from Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm - and a wonderful one from Thursday's winner Hyun-Jin Ryu (seven innings with nothing across). They got difference-making hits from bench men Federowicz and Justin Turner in the final game.
And they got out of town with a win, a much appreciated one given the alternative, as I have found it rather difficult to write a blog post while whimpering in the fetal position.
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So thanks to the sweep at the hands of the derelict D-backs earlier, L.A. wrapped the week-long road trip with a 4-2 record, sits tied with the Giants for first place in the division at 10-6, and gets the Arizona squad to begin their home stand this evening.
Here are your matchups for the weekend series: Zack Greinke versus Wade Miley tonight at 7:10 p.m., Dan Haren opposite Mike Bolsigner Saturday at 5:10 p.m. and Beckett vs. Josh Collmenter Sunday at 1:10 p.m.
And remember, glove conquers all.