Our favorite Nicaraguan, and other observations
Up until the eighth inning on Friday, this had been a real lousy few days for us Dodgers/Kings fans. The Kings got smoked by the Red Wings in a result no one was particularly surprised with. The one bright spot was that Dustin Brown managed to get goal. That’s about all.
Then there was the Dodgers. I don’t need to recap game one of the NLCS. It’s been done several times and a whole lot better than I’m capable of doing. The big controversy, of course, was Torre’s decision to stick with Kershaw in the fifth even though he was clearly struggling. As MSTI pointed out, there was plenty of blame to go around. George Sherrill had a miserable inning, for example. The umpiring was suspect at best. Chan Ho Park and his new beard decided to shut us down even after a lead-off double. Though our offense was otherwise rolling, it’s tough to get out of such a hole.
Okay did anyone really expect a pitchers duel on Friday? Vicente Padilla v. Pedro Martinez does not scream low scoring affair. Yet Padilla continues to throw incredible games for us and he matched Pedro pitch for pitch with the lone exception a Ryan Howard solo home run. He didn’t mess around either. Until his last inning of work, he didn’t get a single batter to a three ball count. His fastball appeared to have a ton of life on it and always appeared in control of the game.
Pedro Martinez frustrated the Dodger bats thoroughly through seven. I lost count of how many pop ups he drew. It didn’t get excruciating until around the fifth, however, because he wasn’t striking anyone out. No one made good contact against him but it looked as if any time the lineup would figure him out and start smoking line drives. No line drive ever happened, however, and after the fifth it looked as if Pedro might CG us (not to mention shut us out) and we would be heading back to Philly down 2 – 0.
Then Charlie Manuel happened. After seven absurdly effective innings, Charlie figured Pedro had done the job. Time for that vaunted Phillies bullpen to take over.
And take over they did. Manuel used five (5) pitchers to get through the eighth who collectively allowed two runs, good enough to get us the lead. Park, who was due for a meltdown anyways, was ultimately credited with the two runs and only managed to record one out. Four more relievers made sure those inherited runners scored, one on a magnificent throwing error by Chase Utley (who is rapidly becoming this series’ Matt Holliday) and another on our hero Andre Ethier’s bases loaded walk.
Manny then ended the rally with a pop up.
But it was good enough and Broxton shut the door in the ninth, two grounders and a fly out by the top of the Phillies order and off we go to Philly with the series tied.
Lots of people are praising Vicente Padilla, and rightly so. Quoting from MSTI again:
On the other side, let’s not gloss over what Vicente Padilla did through 7.1 IP, matching Pedro save for one pitch that Ryan Howard deposited into the left-field stands. As he’s pitching for a contract this offseason, you could almost hear the “ka-ching! ka-ching!” sound effects each time he got an out, couldn’t you? With how horrified everyone – yes, us too – was about the fact that he was starting Game 2, he was fantastic, again. It’s almost as though he’s figured out that if you just tone down the whole “being a giant dick” thing slightly, your fantastic stuff can really help you succeed.
I also have to believe that Padilla is an excellent example of why the playoffs are far more random than we like to believe. Remember Anthony Reyes? No? I don’t blame you. But when the Cards won it all in 2006, Reyes put up some exquisite starts in the post-season, most notably shutting down the Tigers. He was awful before and awful after and I’m relatively sure he’s out of the majors by now. But any pitcher (…almost) is capable of throwing an awesome game, just as an “ace” is capable of getting smacked around and this is just as true in the playoffs as it is in the regular season. Tom Seaver said something to the effect of, “In 36 starts, I’m lucky if I have my good stuff in ten of them.” You’ve heard other pitchers say the same thing. Its a battle some starts, other times the ball just feels great.
Naturally this isn’t meant to take away anything from Padilla’s spectacular performance. He’s rightfully earned a Lima-esque place in all our hearts.
I believe the unholy triumvirate of Caray/Martinez/Darling have supplanted Joe Buck/Tim McCarver as my most hated announcers. For reasons I can’t understand, I listened to the TV broadcast of the game for the first few innings instead of just listening to Vinny on the internet radio. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I’ve yelled at a TV so much.
Buck Martinez deserves the lion’s share of the blame. Why with all the available color announcers available in the world they decide to use this guy is beyond me. It’s not necessarily that he has no idea what’s happening. That’s not special. Rather, it’s the prophet-like conviction which accompanies his narrative that renders it so intolerable.
Darling, who I said previously I didn’t mind on Mets broadcasts, contributes by adding nothing but cliches. It’s a god damn mystery because when he’s with Keith Hernandez calling Mets games, he’s not so bad. He tells stories, laughs, and has a good time. He doesn’t take himself all too seriously and yet has a few nice things to add. Yet when he’s on TBS, he becomes “Oh you can really just feed off a player’s heart and hustle and that’s gonna energize the rest of his teammates” guy. There are no interesting stories or anecdotes, just absolute nonsense.
These two combined with Chip Caray’s mocking disinterest blend to be the most ridiculous broadcast team I’ve ever had the displeasure of suffering through. They make Rick Monday look like a genius. Steve Lyons positively glows with charisma next to these assholes.
On the bright side, Scully’s call of the eighth inning was a real treat. The fact that he can still get excited about a game is endlessly thrilling. I’ve said it so many times, but what ever will we do without him? When the Philies are in town, he loves talking about an old backup named Chico Ruiz and can anyone say they aren’t genuinely touched by Scully’s palpable affection?
Cliff Lee and Hiroki Kuroda on Sunday! All reports say that Kuroda is feeling fine. Torre was satisfied with his simulated game so it’s happening. While there may not be much room for error against Cliff Lee, Torre will most certainly keep Kuroda on a short leash and I like our bullpen enough to cover any lost innings.
As a last note, how awful is that Phillies bullpen? Seriously. Charlie Manuel changes pitchers more than Tony LaRussa and it’s obvious why. The smartest game plan the Dodgers can utilize is to take pitches, be extra patient at the plate, and hope for even just one inning of bullpen. It worked in game two and to a lesser extent in game one. Cliff Lee is the prime candidate to go all nine, but all we need is three outs, especially if Hiro can recall some of his playoff awesomeness from last season and keep it within a few runs.