In a game that had a playoff atmosphere from the very first pitch, the game between the Giants and their arch rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night didn’t disappoint.
After the Giants tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, the game went into extra innings.
Stepping up to the plate with one on and two out in the bottom of tenth inning, the Dodgers' newest acquisition Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer off of Sergio Romo (3-2), downing the Giants 5-3.
On paper before the game the Giants looked to have the edge as they had their ace Matt Cain (10-3) on the mound going against the Dodgers rookie Stephen Fife (0-0), who was making his second big league start.
Cain had the upper hand entering the fifth inning up 1-to-0. With two outs and the pitcher Fife up to bat, it looked like Cain would make it through the fifth unscathed. Fife had other ideas.
Fife, Jerry Hairston, and Mark Ellis hit double, double, single, and suddenly the Giants were down 2-1.
Cain was clearly frustrated with himself on the mound following the double to Fife showing more emotion than he usually displays.
“It was definitely frustrating to get two outs and then give up a 1-2 pitch…it was a good pitch against Fife. For him to get a hit off of that and start a rally that’s frustrating for me but I felt like a kept making my pitches.”
Cain continued, “There’s going to be times when they put the ball in play and they’re going to find holes and it was a little bit of that.”
The Dodgers added another run in the top of the sixth when James Loney singled in Andre Ethier from second after he hit a leadoff double down the right field line.
The score remained 3-to-1 until the bottom of the eighth.
Leading off the inning, Cabrera hit single to right field, one of three on the night as he raised his average to .359.
After Buster Posey struck out, Angel Pagan hit a ground rule double that would’ve scored Cabrera if it didn’t bounce into the stands in the left field corner.
That set the stage for Brandon Belt who already had two hits on the night. Belt fouled the first pitch off, and then hit a broken bat single up the middle scoring Cabrera and Pagan to tie the game.
As the sold out crowd went absolutely crazy, the playoff atmosphere intensified and extra innings seemed fitting.
The Dodgers had their 2-3-4 hitters up in the top of the tenth, three of which are right handed so Bruce Bochy brought in Romo and his lethal slider.
After inducing Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp to ground out, Romo walked Ethier on an inside pitch that he clearly thought was a strike. After the home plate umpire Ed Hickox called it a ball, Romo walked halfway to the plate, took another ball from Posey and walked back to the mound steaming.
With Ethier at first base, Ramirez came up to bat and hit the second slider he saw over the wall in left centerfield.
Slowly rounding the bases Ramirez was ecstatic, twice making circles around his eyes with his fingers apparently in reference to the glasses Fife where’s while he is pitching.
If the two-run homer wasn’t painful enough, the extra gestures didn’t sit too well in the Giant’s clubhouse.
Asked after the game if Ramirez’s homerun trot antics will stick with some of the [Giants] players, Cain responded, “Yeah, that’s definitely something guys notice.”
The hard-fought game between the two rivals was something that has been building all season.
The last time the Dodgers came to town for a three-game series was June 25th and they were leading the NL West by three games.
The Giants not only swept the series to put themselves in a tie for first place, but they did it in dramatic fashion by shutting out the Dodgers in all three games.
That Dodgers lineup was missing Matt Kemp to injury, Andre Ethier was injured during the series, and most notably, it didn’t have Ramirez yet.
Coming into this series the Dodgers were three back in the standings but there lineup was back at full strength, including their new addition, and it was the difference in the game.
During the game is was reported the Giants acquired Marco Scutaro from the Rockies for minor leaguer Charlier Culberson, but the trade is far from the blockbuster the Dodgers made with Ramirez.
Furthermore, Sabean alluded after the game that the big bat everyone’s been looking for probably isn’t there and the expectation is likely more second-tier players to complement the starters.
To make room for Scutaro the Giants may put Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list as he recovers from a strain in his left hamstring. Bochy said a decision will be made tomorrow morning.
The two teams go to battle again tomorrow afternoon as Barry Zito (8-6) takes the mound against Chad Billingsley (5-9). Game time has been changed to 1:05pm to accommodate Fox’s game of the week.
(Unless otherwise noted, all quotes have been taken first-hand.)