LOS ANGELES — In what was dubbed as a possible World Series preview in early April, the Dodgers and Tigers showed a flair for the dramatic in their short but sweet two-game series.
Tuesday night’s opener went to extra innings. Nine innings weren’t enough on Wednesday either, with the Tigers winning 7-6 in 10 innings on the strength of a Victor Martinez home run to lead off the 10th inning and help the Tigers leave town with a split.
Similar to what happened on Tuesday, it was the Dodgers providing some late-game magic.
Adrian Gonzalez was the spark. The Dodgers first baseman led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a solo home run off of Tigers closer Joe Nathan to cut the Tigers’ lead to 6-4.
Two walks and a Juan Uribe single loaded the bases with no outs for pinch hitter Yasiel Puig. The crowd, which at this point was closer to half of the 42,687 in attendance on Wednesday night, was as loud as it had been all night only to let out a collective sigh once Puig was retired on strikes.
After Scott Van Slyke grounded into a fielder’s choice to score a run, Dee Gordon lined an RBI single to right field to score Matt Kemp to tie the game 6-6.
But the lead was short lived as Jansen was beaten by Martinez for the second night in a row.
Mattingly on Jansen: "it seems like, when they have trouble 1 night it’s always 2 in a row. I’ve seen Mo do it plenty of times."
Unlike Tuesday when Martinez hit an RBI single off of Jansen, Wednesday was a non-save situation for the Dodgers closer. Despite Jansen giving up runs on back-to-back nights, Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly isn’t concerned about his closer.
"(Martinez is) just a really good hitter," Mattingly said. "No real concerns as far as (Jansen’s) stuff. I think his stuff is good. I’ve seen a lot of guys, it seems like, when they have trouble one night it’s always two in a row. I’ve seen Mo (former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera) do it plenty of times."
The World Series is six months away, but if what happened the last two nights at Chavez Ravine was any inkling of what October could bring, there will be no shortage of drama.
It's almost 11:20 pm PT, and a very large crowd remains at Dodger Stadium. It is loud. So much for the leave-early reputation. Great fans.
Still, inside the Dodgers clubhouse there’s an understanding a lot has to go their way between now and then. They also didn’t want to make facing the Tigers any larger than what it was — a two-game series in early April.
But, there is a feeling that on Tuesday and Wednesday the Tigers were the best team they’ve faced in this young 2014 season.