Ethier’s Voo Doo Magic Hop Sinks Blue Jays’ Momentum. Dodgers 8, Blue Jays 3 (10 innings)

Down to his last strike in the top of the ninth, Andre Ethier worked some serious black voo doo magic on Wednesday night in Toronto. Colby Rasmus watches as the ball takes a hop, hits the top of his glove, and continues spinning behind him. The misplay allowed Yasiel Puig to score from first and tie the game at 3. (Image source: http://thestar.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341bf8f353ef01901e6e7609970b-800wi)

How right are things going for the Dodgers right now?

Even the artificial turf is helping them secure wins.

Down to their last strike, the perfect storm emerged.  Yasiel Puig, who was on first base at the time after drawing a five pitch walk, took off for second base.  Andre Ethier fisted a 1-2 breaking ball into center field.  The play looked routine.  Colby Rasmus clearly did not have a jump on the ball.  Playing it on a bounce would result in runners on first and third with two out and the Blue Jays would have a chance to get A.J. Ellis for the final out.

Instead, Rasmus ran up on the ball, then stopped short and the turf did its magic.  Rasmus tried to play the bounce, only to have the ball take off on him and go over his head.  A leap up to try to stop the ball only deflected it high in the air and it shot behind him.  Puig never broke stride, glancing back at the play only once before steaming ahead, touching the plate with the game-tying run, then whooping and hollaring triumphantly back to the Dodger dugout.

After that, the floodgates opened starting with Mark Ellis’s go-ahead blast into the Rogers Centre’s Mezzanine Level and the Dodgers left Toronto with a six game road sweep of the Blue Jays and the Nationals.  Coupled with a late-ending extra inning game in Arizona that the Chicago Cubs won 7-6, the Dodgers return home having gained another 3 games in the division, their ascent to first place having succeeded and now extended to a lead of 1 1/2 games over the second place Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Dodgers have made up 11 games on the division now in the span of a little over a month and have won 23 of their last 28, including ten straight games on the road.

This game looked like it would be relatively calm after the offensive scorefests of the first two games.  Ricky Nolasco faced off against Esmil Rogers, and the two pitchers mostly held their opponents in check.

The Dodgers would put a runner on base in every inning, but until the ninth inning could only convert those runners into runs in the second and third innings.  In the second inning, the Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs.  Andre Ethier singled, A.J. Ellis was hit by the pitch, then Skip Schumaker walked.  Juan Uribe drove a sharp line drive to center field.  Rasmus caught it, but it was deep enough to score Ethier for a 1-0 lead.

The Dodgers would add a run in the top of the third.  Carl Crawford singled, then Yasiel Puig hit a ball just short of going over the left-center field wall, settling for an RBI double.  Crawford’s tally made for a 2-0 Dodger lead.

The Blue Jays would get back in the game in the bottom of the fifth.  Walks to Colby Rasmus and Macier Izturis set up Brett Lawrie to hit a hard line-drive double to center, scoring both runners and tying the game at 2.

The Blue Jays tacked on a run in the bottom of the eighth and looked to be about to salvage one game in this three game set.  Melky Cabrera singled, then was pulled for pinch runner Rajai Davis.  Davis stole second, then scored when Jose Bautista hit a grounder to first that Adrian Gonzalez mis-fired to Ronald Belisario for a throwing error, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning.

Puig led off the top of the ninth with a walk against Blue Jays closer Casey Jannsen.  Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez each struck out on three pitches.  Then Ethier worked a 1-2 count before taking an 89 mile an hour slider and fisting it to center and watching it bounce over Rasmus’s head.  Puig scored to tie the game and Ethier wound up on second.  A.J. Ellis would fail to advance Ethier.

Brandon League showed significant improvement.  After getting all three outs in the eighth after taking over for Belisario despite having runners on base, League got three more outs in the ninth.  League’s 2 innings of shutout ball were his biggest two of the season and enabled the Dodgers to be in a position to erupt in the top of the 10th inning.

The biggest inning in the entire series for the Dodgers was the final one.  The Blue Jays brought in Juan Perez to try to keep the Dodgers in check, but Perez’s 0.00 ERA in 22 innings coming into the outing was about to change dramatically.  Juan Uribe walked with one out, then Mark Ellis came up and locked in.  After hitting a ball into the Mezzanine Level down the left field line but foul by about 25 feet, Ellis didn’t miss on the next pitch, rocketing a ball about 25 feet fair this time into that same level and giving the Dodgers a 5-3 lead.  Yasiel Puig would hit a high, deep smash that cleared the left field wall to extend the lead to 6-3, then a single by Gonzalez and a double by Ramirez set up Andre Ethier to drive a ball into the gap in left-center, scoring both runners and giving the Dodgers an 8-3 lead.

Kenley Jansen pitched a 1-2-3 tenth to close out the game, though with a five run lead he does not get credit for a save.

Brandon League, who at least for the moment has found new life by pitching well in crucial situations the past two games, picks up a win for the second consecutive night, improving his season record to 5-3.  Juan Perez takes the loss, his record falls to 1-2.

The Dodgers return home now after a 6-0 road trip to face the Cincinnati Reds in front of a sellout crowd Thursday night at Dodger Stadium for Vin Scully Bobblehead Night.  Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.36 ERA) looks to continue his recent hot streak against Matt Latos (9-3, 3.53 ERA).  The game is, as has been mentioned, sold out, so please arrive early if you can and exercise patience getting into and out of the ballpark tonight.

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