Rockies 5, Dodgers 4: Walked Off

ethier_2014-06-07We talked about Dee Gordon & Yasiel Puig already, but hey, how about that game! Zack Greinke, for the second start in a row, was merely okay, allowing 10 baserunners and three runs in his first six innings, only twice having a clean frame. Jhoulys Chacin, meanwhile, made it look easy through six, not allowing a runner past second.

In the seventh, Matt Kemp walked, then Andre Ethier singled past the second baseman. (This got weird: Kemp hustled hard and made it to third without any particular risk. Charley Steiner, calling the game on SNLA, criticized the call, saying Kemp “went for no apparent reason,” other than, you know, wanting to get 90 feet closer to home when the team is down three runs. Steiner relied on the well-worn “never make the first or last out at third” trope, which isn’t fully as true as many would like to believe. Nomar Garciaparra, to his credit, didn’t agree.)  Justin Turner followed with a single, easily scoring Kemp, chasing Chacin.

That brought in Nick Masset, and I still can’t believe what I saw. Tim Federowicz, with five hits to his name all season, swung at the first pitch… and crushed it deep, deep to left center field off Masset, the same pitcher who gave up Manny Ramirez‘ “Bobbleslam” all those years ago. It was just Federowicz’ third big league homer in the last 365 days; two of his five career homers have come in Colorado. No matter how much talent you have on your team, sometimes you need the little guys to come through.

Unfortunately: the Dodgers gave it right back. Greinke got Charlie Culberson and Charlie Blackmon to start the seventh, but Turner threw away Drew Stubbs‘ grounder, putting Stubbs on second. Corey Dickerson singled to right center, bringing home the tying run.

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So, now the game is tied. It’s the top of the eighth. Kemp tripled to lead off  — that was his third time on base today, plus a hard lineout to short, and fifth time in two days, so maybe let’s not give up on him just yet — but Ethier was unable to advance him, grounding out. Turner was unable to advance him, grounding out. Federowicz was unable to advance him, grounding out. We generally try to evaluate players on overall performance during large sample sizes. Sometimes, actual game situations get lost in that. This is one of those times, and let’s not pretend that “just hit a fly ball for a sacrifice” is the easiest thing in the world to do — the pitcher has something to say about it — but when you look at why games get lost, don’t forget this. Atrocious sequence.

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Brandon League got through the eighth, no thanks to his infield defense, and then we got some real quality #umpshow in the ninth. Chone Figgins singled to lead off, then stole second. Except, he didn’t. Rockies catcher Michael McKenry accidentally knocked the mask off of home plate umpire Alan Porter while drawing his arm back to throw, and although Figgins had the base stolen easily, Porter ruled that McKenry was interfered with (by the ump himself) and sent Figgins back. Porter then called Hanley Ramirez out on strikes, with strike three looking clearly low. (Porter, it should be noted, ranked among the best as far as not missing calls in 2013.) Figgins stole second again on the strikeout, and after Van Slyke walked, Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to the pitcher. We’re probably going to have to talk, soon, about how awful Gonzalez has been for more than a month.

J.P. Howell survived the bottom of the ninth, sending us to extra innings, and no damage was done against Franklin Morales in the tenth. That left Chris Perez in the bottom of the tenth, and somehow, Troy Tulowitzki didn’t send one to the moon. But he did let Justin Morneau single, and with two outs, Brandon Barnes hit the ball you see in the lead picture. It would have taken an outstanding play by Ethier to get it, and he’s not an outstanding center fielder. It also didn’t look like he played the ball with a great deal of urgency; on the other hand, we all know by now what happens with Dodger outfielders who go hard into Coors Field walls. Either way, the bounce past him allowed Morneau to easily score. As quickly as that: game over. Disappointing team keeps disappointing.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.