After what was arguably the best pitching duel of the season at Dodger Stadium between Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy and Dodgers left-hander Paul Maholm, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis delivered a one-out bases loaded sacrifice fly to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning that was deep enough for even the less-than-fleet-of-foot Adrian Gonzalez to tag up and score the game-winning run in front of 51,794 cheering fans at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night. It was only the second walk-off win of the season for the Dodgers and the first since April 8 against the Detroit Tigers.
But even though it will forever be Ellis’s walk-off sac fly remembered as the game winner, it was Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe who set Ellis up to be the hero.
After shutting out the Dodgers for eight innings, Kennedy was relieved by right-hander Kevin Quackenbush, who allowed a leadoff double to Gonzalez – this in spite of the Padres being in a ‘no-doubles’ defense. Gonzalez laced a line drive into the right field gap and because Padres center fielder Will Venable was playing extremely deep, Gonzalez was able to slide safely into second base ahead of Venable’s throw.
Matt Kemp then struck out on a curveball off the plate (again), after which Padres manager Bud Black decided to intentionally walk Andre Ethier, opting to go after Uribe and hopefully get him to ground into a double play. Uribe, however, had other plans.
After being fed three consecutive curveballs (similar to the one that Kemp had chased) and taking a 92 MPH fastball, Uribe was down in the count 2-2. Quackenbush then went back to the curveball on the next two pitches – the first one in the dirt for ball three and the second which Uribe fouled off. Quackenbush then came back with another 92 MPH fastball that Uribe took for ball four to load the bases and moving the winning run 90 feet away. It was an absolutely outstanding seven-pitch at bat for Uribe.
Unlike Uribe, Ellis saw nothing but fastballs, five of them in fact, and he lifted the last one into right field over the Padres’ five-man infield and it was more than deep enough to score Gonzalez from third base for the win.
This is in no way intended to take anything away from A.J. Ellis or his exciting game-winning walk-off sacrifice fly, but if Uribe doesn’t walk, it doesn’t happened.