Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Saddest Walk-off

Last night, before I went to sleep, I tuned into the end of the Dodgers-Padres game, and there I watched the saddest walk-off ending to a baseball game I've ever witnessed. Since both of those teams bore the shit out of me, with Matt Kemp the only hitter on either team I would ever choose to watch, I only switched to the game because it was tied at 8 in the 9th inning (and there was only one other game on that late). The Padres had scored 2 in the top of the 9th to tie the game and brought in Andrew Cashner, a fire breathing former Cubs prospect who throws 100 MPH with a nasty 89 MPH slider and has almost no control over where the ball ends up. He also once rocked some of the patchiest facial hair I've ever seen passed off as a beard.

Andrew Cashner: A Padre with a 100 MPH fastball, no control, and apparently no razor

First, he strikes out the inimitable Dee Gordon. Then former Brewers great Tony Gwynn, Jr. grounds out meekly to short (see, I told you the players on these teams suck). With two outs and no one on, the problems begin. Cashner walks Mark Ellis, the 2-hitter in the lineup and the only player with any protection behind him. Up comes Matt Kemp, reigning MVP runner-up and swatter of an enormous home run earlier in the game. Cashner walks him, though Ellis made the decision easy by stealing 2nd base. Then, in one of the stranger managerial decisions I've ever seen, Don Mattingly decides to send James Loney to pinch-hit for Juan Rivera with two outs and two runners on (Juan Rivera bats clean up for the Dodgers!!). Normally, this wouldn't bother me, since Loney's a pretty good hitter, but he had all of one hit in 20 at bats coming in. No matter, Cashner walks him on four pitches.

Now the bases are loaded, and lefty Andre Ethier is coming up. Bud Black goes to his bullpen, summoning lefty Joe Thatcher for the favorable match-up. Of course, Thatcher walks Ethier. On four pitches. A literal walk-off win for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They didn't even congregate at home plate to greet Ellis.

Just so we're all on the same page: with two outs and no one on, the Padres walked the next four guys, resulting in the winning run crossing home plate. None of those players even faced a two-strike count. Cashner threw 24 pitches, only nine of which were strikes. Thatcher threw four pitches, all balls. If there's a more pathetic way to lose, I don't know it.

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