They may not have held the longest current winning streaks in their respective leagues, but the hottest teams in baseball since Memorial Day have been the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League. That's a big part of what made their first ever series at Dodger Stadium so interesting coming in the weekend, and the game itself certainly showcased both team's strengths.
For the Rays, it's starting pitching. They received another gem from defending American League Cy Young winner David Price, who held Los Angeles to one unearned run over seven innings.
For the Dodgers, it's a relentless offensive attack that makes opposing pitching staffs work for all 27 outs. That's why even when they trailed 6-0 against Price at one point in the seventh inning, they didn't start giving away at-bats. They kept battling, and eventually clawed themselves back into a decent position facing Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning.
Starting the inning trailing 6-3, Los Angeles would get a lead-off single from Skip Schumaker before Dee Gordon struck out for the first — and only — out Rodney would record. The Dodgers would then string together three consecutive run scoring extra-base hits to tie the game. Mark Ellis started the run with a triple, and then Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez followed with doubles. Rodney then intentionally walked Yasiel Puig partially to avoid him and partially to set up the double play.
It was a smart baseball decision all the way around, and it was going to work out perfectly as Jerry Hairston Jr. tapped a one hopper back to Rodney to start what should have been a routine 1-6-3 double play. Only Rodney got confused on who was covering second base, and in his haste to make a throw ended up sailing it into center field to allow the winning run to score.
Just like that a once comfortable 6-0 and then 6-3 lead had been turned around into a 7-6 loss.
"It's just a situation where almost all the time your bullpen is going to lock that down," Rays manager Joe Maddon sad. "They just didn't do that tonight. It was a tough, hard-fought game. We played well to that point. We didn't play badly. We just didn't close it out pitching wise."
It's a stinging loss for a team battling in the loaded American League East, but it's just the latest in a string of impressive wins for the surging Dodgers.
Per @EliasSports, tonight marked the 4th time in LA Dodgers history that the club entered the 7th inning down 6 runs and won
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 10, 2013
I believe that cements how impressive the victory was. It's just too bad so many fans decided to leave early, right A.J. Ellis?
— AJ Ellis (@AJEllis17) August 10, 2013
I know leaving early is fashionable in L.A., but the Dodgers play of late should be enough to change the trend. They're a team worth watching from beginning to end, regardless of how late you are for dinner with your agent.