Dodgers 6 Padres 5

LA up 2-0.

Jim Rome
October 08, 2020 - 9:44 am
Cody Bellinger

USA Today

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The Padres went into Game 2 of their best of five series with the Dodgers needing a win. And needing a strong pitching performance. Mike Clevinger tried to go in Game 1, but had to leave in the second inning with pain that he described as “bones hitting in the back of my elbow."  Not exactly what that means, but it can’t mean anything good.

So after using a conveyor belt of relief pitchers in Game 1, the Padres needed something strong from Zach Davies last night and when LA touched him up for three in the third, it looked like it might be a long night. And when Cody Bellinger did this off him in the fourth, it got even worse.

He went low for that. Really low. As the guys on the postgame show said, that was Adrian Beltre low. That was an incredible home run. He went down so low to get it, he took a knee: an amazing bomb. And yet, it wasn’t even close to the most amazing thing Cody Bellinger did last night. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

In the meantime, with LA holding a 4-1 lead and Clayton Kershaw cruising, things were looking good for the Dodgers. A few innings away from a 2-0 series lead and planning for the NLCS. And then Manny Machado jumped ship in the top of the sixth.

4-2 Dodgers, but still nothing really to worry about. I mean, that’ll happen. A hitter like that will do that, it’s just part of what goes along with facing the Padres lineup. The next batter was Eric Hosmer. And this happened.

4-3 Dodgers. Back to back jacks. Uh-ohhhhhh!!! Dodger fan and Kershaw hater were like, here we go again!!! If Kershaw failed to hold that lead and the undermanned Padres came back to knock him and the Dodgers the hell out, Kershaw and the team would never, ever shake that postreason rap. Suddenly, his entire legacy is at stake, and he was putting his manager Dave Roberts right in the crosshairs as well. But Kershaw digs deep, gets the next three and is able to work out of it.

Then came the top of the seventh. The Dodgers bullpen got the first two outs and then Brusdar Graterol came out of the pen with two outs and one on to face Fernando Tatis Jr. The masher attacked the first pitch he saw, a 99 mile per hour fastball, and everything about what happened next was absolutely incredible:

 

Holy freaking crap. That catch is still unreal. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, and I am still stunned by it. It’s not just the catch, it’s the route Bellinger took to the wall, the perfect timing on the leap, and then the catch. Everything had to go right on that and it did.

And that is a 6’4 guy doing that. That’s just crazy athleticism to do that and be that smooth with it.

Forget being the play of this postseason, that’s one of the best plays of any postseason. I’m still stunned by that. The only thing that could’ve made that moment better is if there were fans there. Dodger Stadium would’ve completely exploded.

And nobody loved it more than Graterol. Of course he did. He came into the game with a one-run lead and probably thought it was gone with one pitch. Because it was gone with one pitch, until Bellinger brought it back. And Graterol’s celebration was absolutely incredible.

It included: throwing his glove, taking off his hat and throwing it like a Frisbee, pounding his chest, pointing to the sky, and then waving to Manny Machado, and blowing kisses to him.

As celebrations go: that was a masterpiece. Perfection. The freaking Mona Lisa. Truly incredible. As great as Bellinger’s catch was, Graterol’s celebration may have been even better. And given the situation and the big stage, Bellinger’s catch was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. 

But apparently Manny Machado didn’t see it that way. He didn’t care for it. Any of it. At all. And hit Graterol with a “motherbleeper” bomb. And then chased that with three straight “bleep you’d: . And, according to the LA Times beat writer an “I’ll be waiting for you.”

Eaaassssy, Manny. First off, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Graterol celebrating like that. In fact, it’s all good. Literally, all good. All awesome. Everything about it is awesome. Every time I see it, it makes me laugh out loud. It makes me happy. It makes the freaking world a better place. And as usually, I don’t have a dog in this fight: I don’t give a damn who wins: I’m here for the content; I’m here for the entertainment. And in that moment, Graterol was entertaining as hell. How the hell is that bad for the game??!?  If you think it is, YOU’RE bad for the game. Hell yes, there’s a place for that in the game.  But there’s not one for you, if you think there isn’t. Machado is a masher, but in this case, dude just does not get it. In this case, he’s just wrong. Flat wrong. 

One, Did you not see that catch? It was insane. I’d be fine if Graterol ripped off his jersey and set it on fire on the mound, given the stakes and the moment, not only would that have not violated some stupid, antiquated code, I’m actually that he didn’t do it. And secondly, and obviously, why is ok for a guy to turn one around 500 feet and flip his bat but not ok for a pitcher to flip his glove when his MVP center fielder brings one back?

How’s that work? Because bat flipping IS cool. I love it.

I love when Tatis does it. I love when Machado does it. So that said, how freaking rich is it when Machado or any of the other great bat flippers, lose their bleep when a pitcher celebrates. Hypocrites: you can celebrate when you touch a guy up, but when that same guy celebrates for keeping you in the yard, he’s a motherbleeper, it’s a reason to guy, and you’ll see him later. C’mon man; get the hell outa here with that garbage (insert). Because that’s what that is: garbage. Especially given Machado’s MASSIVE BAT FLIP EARLIER when he jumped ship.

The only thing dumber than Machado complaining about Graterol’s celebration is anyone who complains about any celebrating in baseball. Hell yes that belongs in the game and if you don’t think it does, you don’t belong in the game.

If you think that’s bad for the game, you’re bad for the game. I don’t want less of that, I want more of it. And if you don’t, then I want less of you.

But the game wasn’t over at that point. It was still 4-3 Dodgers, but like great teams do, they tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the inning, so they were up 6-3 heading into the ninth. Everything’s cool, right? Ehhhhh!! Wrong. You could not be more wrong.

Kenley Jansen got the first out. Then had an 11-pitch at-bat that ended in an infield single. Then gave up an RBI double to make it 6-4. Then got a foul out. Then gave up another hit, 6-5 Dodgers. And by the time that ball had barely landed in the outfield Dave Roberts was heading to the mound to get Jansen. And with good reason. That was a disaster of a performance. And no one off either. Jansen, as good as he’s been for a long as he has, is not what he used to be: by any metric; or any pair of eyes: he’s just not. And as badly he wants it, he seemed intent on soaking that field lighter fluid, flicking a bunch of lit blue tips around and burning that joint right to the grrrrouuund. Nothing about that was good. The velocity wasn’t there, the control wasn’t there, and the Padres were just squaring it all up.

I know Dave Roberts loves the guy. I know Dave Roberts is loyal to the guy. I just don’t know how Dave Roberts could give the baseball back to the guy. Especially in a closing situation. There’s no way you can trust Jansen at this point. 

So in came the legend himself, Joe Kelly: as you may or may not know, this is a huge Joe Kelly house….for reasons too numerous to count: starting with dude is absolutely awesome, but also because one of my favorite people in all of baseball, Andrew Checketts, the head baseball coach at UC Santa Barbara recruited Joe to UC Riverside when Chex was there. So, with two outs, one man on, and a one-run lead, the goggled icon is on the bump trying to put that arsonist Jansen’s inferno, and guess who is waiting for him? None other than: Fernando Tatis Jr. don’t fact check me on this, but it feels like Tatis bats in every single inning. Every time there was a clutch moment, a big moment, he was in the batter’s box with Machado on deck.

And Kelly got to two strikes and then lost him. And then went to two strikes with Machado, and lost him too. Walked both. Joe Kelly doing Joe Kelly things; wouldn’t’ have it any other way: then you get another pro’s pro, picking up the bat: Eric Hosmer with the bases loaded and two outs., the game hanging in the balance, and by the way, maybe Clayton Kershaw’s legacy if the Dodgers let this one get away. 

And it is moments like this when baseball is at its best. The folks who run this sport have done everything they can to make the game less relevant and less interesting, but you still cannot kill moments like this in the postseason, even without any fans. That’s the crazy thing about last night – two SoCal teams playing on a neutral field in Texas without fans, and it was still tense as hell. But Joe Kelly does what Joe Kelly does, he finishes.

Damn, Dodger fans, how are you feeling after that? You can chill now. Joe Kelly got the out and secured the win. And is hero for it. And so is the MVP Bellinger for leaving the leaving the yard and bringing one back: and so is. Graterol for an all-time Celebration: I freaking love these padres, their grit, their heart, their talent, everything about them, except Machado’s act last night, and they will back, just not this postseason: it’s not their time. It will be, just not yet. And pandemic or not that right there is as good as postseason baseball gets.