20 July 2009

Last Things First

I was at Saturday's game, and there is much to say about it, much that I will say, but that game is two days past now, and maybe I have missed the window of relevance. If this was football, a game just two days past would still vibrate with importance, but here in baseball that game is nearly lost, crowded out by the game yesterday and the game yet to come today. But there was Kershaw's performance, brilliant and vexing and encouraging and lucky, but mostly brilliant, and the relevance of that has not dimmed, and there is also Broxton's finishing turn on Saturday, and the contrast to what he did yesterday. So that will come, but first, the old man and the Bison.

It was a grim day offensively for more than half of the Dodger lineup. Furcal, Hudson, Blake, and Loney all went hitless and walkless. Manny was hitless but had two walks. The Dodgers collected 8 hits, all by Ethier, Kemp and old man Ausmus. The benefit of two of Ethier's singles were erased by Loney double play grounders. Kemp scored 4 times, twice on Ausmus doubles, once under his own awesome power, and once after a series of pratfalls by relief pitcher Arias. The day belonged to Kemp, who excelled as a de facto lead off hitter, reaching first base every time he lead off an inning. The one time he did not lead off an inning he hit a home run.

I remember all the strikeouts. Curveballs down and away, chased. I remember failure with the bases loaded, time after time. I remember all those baserunning blunders, and how they did not die, but instead shambled and jerked awake into a new and unnatural life, reanimated after being struck by media lightning. Even if dismissed, even if patience and perspective was preached, it was impossible to not be aware of all of Matt Kemp's failings, of all the ways he still wasn't quite measuring up to what he might be. And yet patience was the test all along. Patience was the salvation for both us and Kemp. We should not have given up or despaired that he would ever become a star any more than he should have swung at those off-speed pitches low and away. Kemp could not have hit his home run yesterday on any previous pitch of that eighth inning at bat. That home run was Hawkins' fault --- it was a terrible pitch --- but Kemp had to wait and wait to allow him to be at fault. Four foul-offs, three balls taken. On the eighth pitch, the brightest star on the Dodgers shined again.

Game 92 Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Kemp -- 1
Ausmus -- 1
Mota -- 1

Game 92 Unfair Loss Shares ( Astros )

Arias -- 1
Hawkins -- 1
Tejada -- 1


Dusto Magnifico said...

I knew youd give one to Mota... Though through the 2 innings he pitched we were losing. I can't trust him in any other situation.

Joshua Worley said...

You knew I'd pick Mota?

I have become predictable, destroyer of surprise!

I really wanted to give two to Kemp, but I try to reward good 'pen work whenever possible, even when it is Mota. The strange thing about that game was that the Dodgers had six clear players who did really well: Ausmus, Mota, Kemp, Ethier ( though his effort was wasted ) Broxton and Troncuilizer. They got zero from everyone else, which is why they only won by one run.