Dodgers 1, Padres 0: A.J. Ellis, Walkoff Hero

I don’t want to take anything away from Paul Maholm, who was obviously incredible tonight. After two months in the bullpen, he was asked to make a spot start with Josh Beckett on the disabled list, and Maholm was… well, I’m not even sure how to say it. This is a guy who had been one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball when he was in the rotation earlier, a guy who none of us would have been upset to see DFA’d weeks ago, a guy who many were surprised to see even getting this chance instead of Red Patterson. All Maholm did was retire the first 10 Padres in a row, eventually throwing six scoreless innings and requiring just 65 pitches to get there. He walked none. He allowed two singles. He was unbelievable. He deserves all the accolades he’ll get, and he’ll probably get another start or two out of this.

It’s just, well… this Padres team is bad. Really, really bad. Historically bad, even. Over the last 100 seasons of baseball, here’s the 10 worst team seasons for on-base percentage, not including pitchers:

  1. 2014 Padres, .282
  2. 1965 Mets, .284
  3. 1981 Blue Jays, .286
  4. 1972 Padres, .291
  5. 1968 White Sox, .292
  6. 1968 Mets, .292
  7. 1969 Padres, .293
  8. 1963 Mets, .293
  9. 2011 Mariners, .293
  10. 1965 Colt .45s, .293

That’s six teams within the first four seasons of their expansion existence, two clubs from 1968’s “Year of the Pitcher,” the hilarious 2011 Mariners team that gave 400 or more plate appearances to Miguel Olivo, Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak, plus 721 to 37-year-old Ichiro Suzuki… and this year’s Padres. They’re atrocious. I get it, this isn’t a scientific study, because it’s raw OBP and not park- or league-adjusted, but the fact that we’re even talking about this shows you a lot about how awful this team is. And, if you can believe it, it’s even worse than that, because the only decent hitter they currently have is Seth Smith, and he wasn’t even in the starting lineup tonight. (This also doesn’t make Dan Haren‘s outing last night look any better, of course.)

So Maholm was a million times more than you ever thought he could be… and yet the Dodgers still don’t walk away from this with an easy win, because Ian Kennedy matched Maholm and then some, throwing shutout ball through eight innings. Wait, hang on, Yasiel Puig has something to add:


GIF Link (via Chad)

That was Puig, after the bottom of the third, being thrown out of the game after striking out with two outs and Miguel Rojas on third base. Was it a borderline call? Sure. Was the ump’s trigger finger too quick? Probably. Can you stand at the plate, glare at the ump, and mouth something likely less-than-friendly? No. No, you cannot. So out went Puig, and in came Carl Crawford, which… well, it pushed Andre Ethier to right and Matt Kemp to center. In the ninth, Kemp returned to left when Scott Van Slyke entered to play center.  That’s right: Ethier, Kemp, and Van Slyke all played center field tonight. Problem solved!

Speaking of Kemp, he led off the seventh — I’m skipping ahead here, because all that happened in between, other than this unbelievably close replay call on an Adrian Gonzalez foul that did not go the Dodgers’ way — with a walk, then was thrown out attempting to steal. Since that was followed by an Ethier walk and a Juan Uribe single, it ended up being a very costly out. Hard for me to complain, though; in a game where no offense is happening, aggressive play is called for, and Rene Rivera made a strong throw. A.J. Ellis flew out to right, and Miguel Rojas fouled out, and that was that.

Brandon League (seventh), J.P. Howell (eighth), and Kenley Jansen (ninth, with two strikeouts around two scary hits) kept it scoreless, and so we went…

To The Bottom of the Ninth Inning

Was that necessary? Probably not. And yet it happened anyway. With Kevin Quackenbush now in, Gonzalez doubled to deep right, hustling to beat the throw. This proved important: after Kemp struck out, Ethier was given a free pass, and Uribe followed with a walk of his own. That brought up Ellis with the bases loaded, and I know you wanted #shrimp, particularly from Ellis. I did too. Instead, he flew to right, more than deep enough to score Gonzalez, and Uribe was excited about what was only the second walkoff hit of the year:


GIF Link

Oh, and I nearly forgot to tell you: The Dodgers have the best record in the National League. Start that party, boys. Start that party.


Mike

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


364 comments
moneynow27
moneynow27

@WBBsAs (In Dog We Trust. Un Planeta Sin Gatos)


I'm sure many won't agree with me, but with Gonzo at 2b and no outs, Don should have had Kemp bunt him to 3B.  Gonzo would probably not score on a single, so we needed to get him to 3b with less than 2 outs anyway we could.  

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

The Dodgers, Red Sox and Phillies need to form an alliance.  Good things could happen for all three clubs if they synched up on a 3-way deal.

Condorave
Condorave

That's what I mean. If I were GM, I'd have only the nicest players on my roster. :)

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

@moneynow27  @BlueMarvin  Without crunching numbers, players that fit the troubled or should be traded bill would include: Papelbon, Drew, Peavy, Ethier, Crawford, Lee, Peavy, Utley, Rollins, Victorino, AJP.  If we wanted to be bold, we could include Gordon in the mix to bring back Lee and/or Hamels, without having to loot the farm, but that will never happen sadly.

nsxtasy
nsxtasy

Nobody here now.  Looks like the troll from earlier this morning has left...

Definition Of A Sabermetric Nightmare
Definition Of A Sabermetric Nightmare

Well I just saw a Delino Deshields reference, so I guess that is an excuse to mention a little thing I thought of the other day...

The Dodgers produced the following team around the late 1990's through drafts, international players, and one free agent who wanted to be a Dodger:

Piazza C [HOF]

Karros 1B

Young 2B

Zeile 3B
Hollandsworth LF

Cedeno CF

Mondesi RF

Pedro Martinez [HOF]

Ramon Martinez

Hideo Nomo

Ismael Valdez

Chan Ho Park

Pedro Astacio and various decent relievers


Reinforcements around 2000: Beltre [HOF], Konerko [HOF?], Lilly

moneynow27
moneynow27

@DBrim @Saber Nightmare


No, but I would have rather had Konerko all these years than Jeff Shaw.  That was Lasorda's nightmare trade when he was GM for a month or two.

BlueMarvin
BlueMarvin

@TellMyWifeISaidHello @Saber Nightmare @moneynow27  @DBrim  You guys forget... Beltre wasn't so wonderful in Seattle for a few years after he signed that HUGE deal.  If he had done that in LA, there would have been tense times about that deal before he finally rebounded... assuming they didn't trade him for nothing before it happened.

nsxtasy
nsxtasy

Here's what I don't understand about the challenge to AGon's fly ball called foul.  When a ball is called foul and hits the ground, play stops based on the call.  So if you overturn the call, how do you know how far AGon would have run?  First?  Second?  There's no way to know.  This is why I don't think balls called foul can be challenged.  (Obviously, balls called fair can be challenged, since play continues.)

nsxtasy
nsxtasy

Regarding Maholm, here's the thing to remember.  Bad pitchers sometimes pitch good games.  Just like good pitchers sometimes pitch stinkers.  The difference between the two is the frequency of the good games and the bad games.  Paul Maholm can pitch a gem, and Dan Haren can pitch a one-hitter, but that doesn't mean they are all of the sudden a good pitcher.  OTOH you don't need a good pitcher for the #5 slot in the rotation; you need someone who might keep you in the game, and who will pitch innings and keep from depleting the entire bullpen.  Haren, and now Maholm, can do that.  The problem now is how long Beckett will be out, since that means relying on BOTH of them in the rotation.  OTOH keep in mind that some of us (myself, anyway) didn't expect much from Beckett at the start of the season, so the season he's been having already puts us ahead of those expectations.

Bottom line - I don't mind Maholm getting some spot starts.  Having both him and Haren in the regular rotation into August (or more) is a bit scary.  Still, better than Fife or Magill doing so.

very smart poster
very smart poster

all I remember was hitting my head, laughing, then eating a burrito

very smart poster
very smart poster

so hungover I got one of those can't-sleep hangovers. gotta wait it out