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.

About Mike Petriello

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