Dodgers Respond to Phillies, Cut Into Lead
Monday, October 13, 2008
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 12 -- As the guileless guru of his own simple, happy world, Manny Ramírez fits the profile of an unlikely aggressor. Aggressors need long memories, for one thing, because bad blood is drawn from history. But Ramírez has a fortune cookie tacked atop his locker that reads, "Don't look back, always look ahead."
Ramírez, then, became an aggressor Sunday only because he had to. The Dodgers needed a win, which they got, and Ramírez needed to make a point, which required anger. In a 7-2 win against Philadelphia at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles enlivened this series with a performance at once powerful and fervid. When both dugouts spilled onto the field after a Hiroki Kuroda pitch almost guillotined Philadelphia's Shane Victorino, the Dodgers had finally made their point. They could play barroom tough against a shot-and-beer opponent. And whether they chose to look back or not, their future has become much brighter. They're down just 2-1 in the series, with two more to play at home, where Sunday a record 56,800 turned up. After kicking themselves for their passive response to Philadelphia's assortment of brush-back pitches in Game 2, Los Angeles proved in Game 3 that that even the happiest 36-year-olds -- and the teams they lead -- can turn into menaces.
"Yeah, Manny got fired up," catcher Russell Martin said. "I was there to pull him back."
"I think Manny" third baseman Casey Blake started, trying to be diplomatic. Then he gave up, with a laugh: "He just went crazy."
In the third inning, Los Angeles already held a 6-1 lead, having reversed much of the series momentum by battering Philadelphia lefty Jamie Moyer for six runs and dispatching him after 1 1/3 innings and 32 pitches, in time to make the early-bird special. But the wide margin was tinder for the tempers. With two outs, Kuroda threw just behind Victorino's head, a pitch similar to the one Ramírez saw in Game 2 from Brett Myers. Victorino turned to Kuroda and, with a series of frantic hand motions, indicated that he'd prefer an inside pitch near the hips, not the head. Victorino never moved toward the mound -- he just stared -- but home plate umpire Mike Everitt issued warnings to both sides. (Earlier, in the second, Philadelphia reliever Clay Condrey had thrown high and inside to Martin. And Moyer had hit Martin at the knees with a pitch in the first.)
"You start throwing the ball up and around people's heads," Philadelphia Manager Charlie Manuel said, "[there's] no place in baseball for that."
When Victorino grounded out the end the inning, he and Kuroda came face-to-face near the first base bag. Within seconds, every breathing man in stirrups was taking sides. Both dugouts emptied. Both bullpens emptied. Dodgers fans got the full "West Side Story" presentation. Ramírez, meanwhile, sprinted in from left field, and when he stopped at the epicenter of the disagreement, he was screaming in two languages, Martin observed. At least four or five teammates and coaches restrained Ramírez from nearing anybody in red. Ramírez, like a tiger uncaged, tried to lunge away from those holding him back, but the masses pushed him back toward the Dodgers' dugout.
Who was Ramírez yelling at?
"Next" question, he said after this one.
Was he trying to go after anybody in particular?
"Next," Ramírez said.
Why did he think such anger was necessary?