On a day where Derek Lowe has gone eight strong innings and gotten zero run support, Grady Little decides to take a knife and stick it right through the heart of Derek Lowe in the bottom of the ninth inning. Marlins win on a walk-off home run, 3-0.
Let's play back the bottom of the ninth. First of all, Lowe got there by matching Sergio "Valente" Mitre, who pitched eight innings of three-hit ball (I'll get back to that point in a second). Lowe walks the leadoff batter, Hanley Ramirez, on five pitches. Then Wilson Betemit, back in the starting lineup after some promising pinch-hits the past week (and back to his old ways with an 0-for-3 day), muffs a ball to put men on first and second for the Marlins. Miguel Cabrera sacrifices them over to second and third for the first out.
Now what do you do? Lowe is tired, has earned the right to take a breather having gone later in a game than any Dodger starter this year (resting the bullpen, Grady! We know you're focused on this!). On base lurks a game-ending threat 90 feet away. Josh Willingham is at the plate, with Aaron Boone behind him. What do you do?
One would think that Grady would have two viable options here: (1) walk Willingham, setting up the double play to end the inning, and/or (2) bring in a reliever to pitch to Willingham or Boone.
But no, Grady chooses to leave Lowe in (heard this one before?), and pitch to Willingham--who promptly takes the first pitch yard for a walk-off, three-run home run. Tragic, and even more tragic since this could have been avoided. Grady left Lowe hanging and kicked the stool out from under him at the same time.
If you're asking why Lowe had a rope around his neck to begin with, one need only to look at the starting lineup with Gonzalez batting cleanup (he went 0-for-3), protected by Ethier in the five-hole (he went 0-for-3), followed by Betemit, Valdez, and Martinez, all of whom 0-fer'd on the day. This is actually the exact same stunt Little pulled on Lowe back in game 15, when Little trotted out a lineup behind Lowe that resulted in a measly two runs. And today's lineup couldn't even muster that.
It's too bad Grady raised the white flag before the game began, and then continued on to make moves to seal the fate of Lowe and the Dodgers. There won't be many days like Wednesday, in which the Dodgers' win allowed them to pick up a full game on each of their four NL West opponents. But now, we've got a 20-15 record, a losing road-trip, and a long plane ride home ahead, before a six-game NL Central homestand with the Reds and Cards.
No peanuts for you on the flight home, Grady.