Continuing the At-Game Recap... (Part 1)
Apprehension. The game didn't start out well for the Dodgers, with Randy Wolf loading the bases (including a IBB to Albert Pujols) in the first inning. (That's bad.) But then Wolf struck out Matt Holliday for the first out. (That's good.) And then Ronnie Belliard let a Ryan Ludwick ball drop in short right-center field, scoring one run. (That's bad.) (Actually, it was especially bad as everyone started second guessing Joe Torre's move to play Belliard rather than Orlando Hudson at second, since Hudson probably would have caught that ball.)
And then, relief. Yadier Molina hits a comebacker for a double play, ending the inning. Only one run scored, and it could have been much, much worse.
Let me take a second to describe the atmosphere here: you could cut the tension with a knife. Everyone, save the lone Cardinals fan sitting next to me, was worried. And the mood was pretty tense. It may have been even more pronounced for me because I was under the loge-level "awning", being pretty far back in field level; my stress couldn't just dissipate into the night like a noxious odor. Instead, it remained bottled up in the concourses, with low muttered rumbles under people's breaths.
Great, the Cardinals are going to romp. Wow, we can't even get out of the first inning unscathed. Yikes, this might be a long game (even longer since the between-innings time is eternal for playoff games).
And now, a PSA from Schoolhouse Rock. Interjections, show excitement, or emotion. They're generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point. Or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong. Okay, back to the At-Game Recap.
The Dodgers come out for their half of the frame. But there is no tail-between-the-legs stance, just a quiet confidence. Rafael Furcal leads off with a single to left. Hope.
And then, Matt Kemp crushes the crap out of Chris Carpenter's first pitch for a two-run home run. Elation. Euphoria. Hysteria. The place went absolutely apeshit, from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye. From my obscured field-level view, I could only see the ball leave the bat, watch the fielders go back, and then see the ball quickly come back into view as it dropped over the centerfield wall. And then it was pandemonium. All from the bat of a Bison.
We can win this game. We can do it. Three mere pitches into this game, we've taken back the lead by force, wresting it out of St. Louis' hearty salt-of-the-earth heavily-favored hands in an instant, staking our claim to Game 1. And from this point on, Dodger Stadium was a party atmosphere. We moved from tension to confidence, defensiveness to swagger, stillness to swirling rally towels. We can do it. Let's get this started.
Now, let's get back to this one. Finally, the NLDS crowd had some vigor!
On to the third inning, where the Dodgers picked up another run to extend our lead to 3-1. My photo essay follows.
I'm all for fired-up Dodger fans, though, so I have to admit I smiled when I saw him. He went down one aisle to try and fire people up, and security soon afterward asked to see his ticket and helped direct him to his proper aisle (or Jackson Pollock exhibition). Their efforts not without casualty, however; one of the security guards got blue and white paint all over her jacket, as a result. Hope that comes out in the wash (for both of you guys).
More of the at-game recap to come... (Part 3)