Dodgers Pass Test Against Angels
By Steven Lieberman
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw got off to a rocky start in the second game of the two-game homestand against their “I-5” rival Angels, but thanks to closer Kenley Jansen striking out all three batters he faced in the ninth, and then pinch-hitter Andre Ethier sealing the deal with a walk-off hit, the Dodgers got the win, 5-4.
It was Ethier’s 12th career walk-off hit and the Dodgers fifth of the season. With five Angel players defending the infield, Either hit a slow-roller to third base scoring Juan Uribe from third base on a throwing error by David Freese. Uribe got the ninth-inning rally started with a single and also cranked-out a three-run homer in the second inning.
Not even Angels first-baseman Albert Pujols’ monster game-tying solo home run off reliever Brian Wilson in the top of the eighth inning could stop the Dodgers. His blast traveled an estimated 419 feet into the Dodgers bullpen in left field.
After the game, Ethier reflected on his moment of glory.
“They had a meeting on the mound before my at-bat. The pressure was on them,” Ethier said. “You want to be the one in that situation. I visualized in my mind what I wanted to do before I came up to the plate. After I made contact with the ball, I said (expletive) and then put my head down and ran as fast as I could and waited for Davey’s (first base coach, Davey Lopes) reaction.”
Even though Ethier hasn’t been getting as much playing time as of late, he still makes an effort to cheer on the starting players and knows his time will come again. He is the ultimate team player.
Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis, whose hit-and-run single in the ninth that sent Uribe to third base, also chimed-in after the win, expressing his feelings about Kershaw going up against Angels superstar Mike Trout.
“I pinch myself because I’m sitting three feet away from one guy and 60 feet, six inches away from another guy on a Hall of Fame trajectory – and maybe go down as the greatest at their positions of all time,” Ellis said. “So, it’s a pretty special moment that I’ll never forget – and I liked it better when we struck him out than when he’s hitting bullets into the left-field corner.”
Trout went 2-for-4 with a single and a double as he extended his Interleague hitting streak to 20, the longest active streak in the Majors.
“It’s always fun going against the best,” Trout said when asked about Kershaw. “He’s a good person and he battles out there. He’s a competitor. I love battling guys like that. The first couple of innings we had some things going, but he hung in there and battled through seven innings. That’s why he’s who he is.”
Kershaw, the Majors’ ERA leader three years in a row, and Trout, second in the American League Most Valuable Player balloting the past two years, did not disappoint a crowd of 51,051 that brought a playoff-like atmosphere to Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers went on to win three out of four games in the Freeway Series.