Damon's Steal: instant history

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On the one hand, the double steal by Damon in the 9th doesn’t really
matter, right? He’d be on second base before the A-Rod hit and still
would have scored, even if someone had thought to cover third.

On the
other hand, Brad Lidge was on the mound, and that guy is something less
than grace under pressure. You know he was worked up about that play
when he hit Teixeira, and you have to figure he was still thinking
about it when he threw the pitch to A-Rod. Heck, he may have still been thinking about the Pujols homer in the 2005 NLCS or that time he got the wedgie during 7th grade gym. Fine pitcher all things considered, but an ice man he is not.

But who cares about the cold analysis here: as it happened, were you thinking anything but “WOW!” or, if you’re a Phillies fan, at least a hearty “WTF?!!”  I personally have no horse in this race, but I’ll admit that I stood up and shouted at
my TV when Damon took off from second, just as amazed at the steal itself as I was at how quickly he reacted, realizing that
there was no one at third and that he had the edge in the footrace. My
next thought was “man, they’ve been playing baseball for more than 150
years, so you’d think everything that has happened could happen, and
then something like THIS happens.” I’m guessing some guy will dig deep
somewhere today and find an account of this happening before, but the
fact that he’ll have to dig is testament enough to that play.

But maybe it hasn’t happened. Think about the perfect storm of
weirdness that had to occur for Damon to be able to swipe two: (1) the overshift
had to be on with the third baseman covering the play, just like they did for Teixeira; (2) someone had to be stealing with an overshift
on, which by definition means that someone is attempting a steal when a
fierce pull hitting lefty is at the plate, which is usually a dumb play — you let your slugger slug; and (3) a defensive brain fart had to occur, at least to the extent that the
pitcher not covering third on a stolen base — something which doesn’t
come up too often — can be considered a brain fart.

If I had to guess,
I’d say that someone got a double steal awarded to them on a bad
scorer’s call at some point, when an error really should have been
recorded. My guess is that it happening exactly like Damon did it has never
happened before.

I also have to guess that with Cliff Lee going next, my pick of the Yankees in six is looking pretty safe. Although, if shell shock and momentum and all of that enters into it, they may just wrap it up tonight.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.