Casey at the Bat
With apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer
The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Dodgers nine this day;
The score stood three to three, with no innings left to play,
When Pierre flew to center, and Manny fanned the air,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons who were there.
The bases they jammed up full with runners every place
But hope was still reflected on everybody's face;
They thought, "If only Casey wasn't in such an awful slump —
We know that Casey'd get us over this last little hump."
But all could read the stat sheet, knowing recent hits were few,
And feared extra innings were in store; and maybe even two.
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat;
For there seemed but little chance that the ball'd hit Casey's bat.
From fifty thousand throats and more there rose up to a screech;
It rumbled through Chavez Ravine, it rattled in the beach;
It pounded on the mountains and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, trusty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.
100 thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Fifty thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the Marlin's pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through hard and bad,
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.
He glared out at the pitcher, and once more the small sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said "Strike two!"
"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
Oh, out here in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing happily, and all our hearts are light,
Not in the Marlin dugout, where the players threw a fit;
But there is joy in Dodgertown — Casey blooped a little hit.
The Dodgers never led in the game until Casey's poetic hit, fighting back to tie things 1-1 in the first and scoring two in the sixth to overcome a 3-1 deficit.
Hiroki Kuroda held the Marlins to six hits and three runs, two earned after Russell Martin' throwing error in the sixth. He matched his season high with nine strikeouts and allowed just one extra-base hit.
Rafael Furcal tripled in the first inning and scored on Orlando Hudson's single. Andre Ethier singled, Blake walked and Loney single to score Ethier and Martin tied the game with another single.
In the last of the ninth, pinch-hitter Juan Pierre lined out to deep center, Furcal beat out a bunt and Hudson dropped a single into shallow left. The scene was set for another Manny-moment but he struck out swinging. Ethier, who was 3-for-3 drew a walk to load the bases and bring up not-so mighty Casey.
The big third baseman, whose bat and glove had helped the Dodgers to the best record in baseball before the All-Star break, was 0-for-3 in the game with two strikeouts and a ground out, and deep in a 7-for-43 slump (.161) since the All-Star break.
But he got his bat on a slider near the outside corner of the plate and lofted a near-perfect nine-iron shot softly into right center to drive in the winning run.
It was the 27th comeback victory for the club with the majors’ best record and Los Angeles won their 10th game on its last at-bat giving the Dodgers, a major league-best 20-9 record in one-run games.
“I was just trying to get fired up and ready to step in there and battle him,” said Blake, who was called out on a dubious strike in the third inning. “I found a hole. I thought it might hang up a little bit and let their guy get there, but I was fortunate. You get some luck in this game, and right now I’ll take anything I can.”
“There aren’t many other people you want up there instead of him, in terms of coolness,” Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. “You know he’s going to fight for it. Casey’s not going to go just quietly. … I told him when he came off the field that he just bought himself the day off (Sunday).”
Guillermo Mota pitched two hitless innings of relief for Los Angeles on his 36th birthday. He has thrown 19 consecutive scoreless innings in his last 15 appearances since June 24.
And Jonathan Broxton (7-0) pitched a perfect ninth for the Dodgers, who have lost back-to-back games just once in July. They still haven’t lost three straight all season.
All this brought great joy to Mudville...er...Dodgertown.
In the series finale, the Dodgers will start RHP Jason Schmidt (1-0, 5.40 ERA) who sort of tiptoed through his first appearance in almost two years and although he doesn't hit 90 often on the gun, still knows how to pitch,
?RHP Chris Volstad (7-9, 4.34 ERA), a 21-year-old, 6-8 right-hander who allowed one run in seven innings at San Diego in his last start.
Score by Innings
Florida 100 101 000-3
Los Angeles 100 002 001-4
Los Angeles ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss 5 2 2 0 .258
Hudson 2b 5 0 3 1 .292
Ramirez f 5 0 1 0 .336
Ethier rf 3 1 3 0 .269
Blake 3b 4 1 1 1 .275
Loney 1b 3 0 1 1 .280
Martin c 4 0 1 1 .259
Kent cf 4 0 0 0 .313
Kuroda p 1 0 1 0 .083
DeWitt ph 1 0 0 0 .129
Mota p 0 0 0 0 .000
Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000
Pierre ph 1 0 0 0 .314
Totals 36 4 13 4
Florida 33 3 6 3
Error- Martin (4). 2B- Ethier (232).
3B- Furcal (2). RBI- Hudson (50), Loney
(59), Martin (29), Blake (58). LOB- Los
Angeles 11, Florida 5. CS- Loney (2).
Los Angels in h r-er bb so era
Kuroda 6.0 6 3-2 1 9 4.57
Mota 2.0 0 0-0 1 1 3.00
Broxton (7-0) 1.0 0 0-0 0 1 2.76
T- 3:28. Att- 50, 248.