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Things didn’t look much easier for tonight’s game, as the Nationals sent big Max Scherzer to the mound. The Dodgers countered with their own big man, Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy surrendered a quick first-inning run on a base hit, two stolen bases and a sac fly, but at least tonight’s game started differently. At first it wasn’t the sleepy Dodgers offense that we’ve seen lately.
The boys came out swinging – and hitting – right out of the box in their half of the first. Chase Utley singled and advanced on an error. Then he hustled to score from second on an Adrian Gonzalez base hit. The crowd was excited and so was I.
Go ahead and watch that highlight twice. Nothing else good happened for the Dodgers tonight.
That File Cabinet RBI turned out to be as valuable – and as rare – as blue gold. Despite giving up a first inning run, Scherzer was on. His pitches had some nasty movement, and he retired the first six outs on strikeouts.
The Dodgers caught some breaks in the third, eeking out two walks and an error to load the basis for Chris Taylor with two out. Unfortunately, that was all the Dodgers could muster. The kid who blasted a grand slam to win the game in Milwaukee was played with and discarded on four outside pitches by Scherzer. It looked exactly like a kid versus a master.
Bryce Harper led off the Nationals’ fourth with a ground rule double, and he was brought home to give the lead back to the Nats on two sacrifice outs. That’s a method of scoring the Dodgers sorely lack.
Following Harper’s double, Brandon McCarthy retired the next nine Nats in a row. Trouble was, the Dodgers weren’t doing anything with the bats to advance the rare base runners they did get. After a bit of spark in the first, the bats went right back to sleep.
Following their latest pattern, the Dodgers got everyone excited in the ninth when the kid, Chris Taylor, rapped a base hit against the Nationals’ rookie pitcher. Yasiel Puig came up with two out. He watched a fastball groove the pipe. He swung and missed another one belt high. Puig took the next two pitches, and Taylor stole second. The tieing run was in scoring position and the deuces were wild. Puig took ball three. Full count.
The Nats went to page one of the “How to Pitch Puig in a Pressure Situation” handbook. Go low and outside about two feet off the plate. It never fails, and it didn’t fail this time. Puig swung wildly at a pitch he couldn’t have reached with a six-foot long bat. Game over.
But the postgame fireworks almost went off when the Nats pitcher seemed to stare Puig down and say something to him. Yasiel came at him barking, “What did you say?!” Umpires and players quickly separated the two before anything could happen, and then the losing Dodgers gathered their gear and headed down to their locker room. Perhaps they were wondering where all that fire was from innings 2-8.
Dodgers lose 2-1
Dodgers offense tonight: 17 Ks and only 4 hits. That won’t even beat the Mudville Hens.