PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 18: Hiroki Kuroda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hangs his head during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies during Game Three of the NLCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 18, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
That was ugly.
It was a game that was basically over minutes after it started. It was 4-0 Phillies after one inning. 6-0 after two. They played the other seven because the rules say you have to, but the Dodgers had mentally packed it in and went on to lose 11-0 (the worst loss by a team in the playoffs since the 1959 World Series). The Phillies lead the National League Championship Series 2-1.
The starting pitching from the two teams could not have been more different.
For the Dodgers, Hiroki Kuroda threw fastball after fastball down the pipe. In the first inning he gave up a single to Shane Victorino, another single to Chase Utley, a triple to Ryan Howard and a home run to Jason Werth on a belt-high fastball over the middle of the plate. In the second inning Kuroda gave up double to Carlos Ruiz and a double to Jason Rollins, and at that point Joe Torre pulled him from the game.
But it was too late (Rollins later came in to score later). Kuroda had given up six runs on six hits in an inning and a third (giving him a postseason ERA of 40.50). That was essentially the ballgame.
Especially since the Dodgers could not hit Phillies starter Cliff Lee. The Philadelphia ace gave up just three hits (two to Manny Ramirez) and no runs in eight innings of work, striking out 10 and walking nobody. Only one Dodger player even reached second base on him.
The game just got uglier and uglier for the Dodgers as the night went on. Chad Billingsley gave up two more runs in the fifth, Ronald Belisario gave up a three-run home run to Victorino in the eighth. Meanwhile the Dodgers continued to struggle hitting any Phillies pitching.
There was a lot of pressure on the Phillies to win this game — after being on the road in Colorado to end the last series then two games in Los Angeles (the second an ugly loss giving up a late lead), if they had not won this game it would have been a blow to their confidence. Now they are the exceedingly confident team.
The question is what kind of confidence will the Dodgers bring to Citizens Bank Ballpark Monday? The pressure is on them now, because if they lose Monday and go down 3-1 in the series it will be a big hill to climb to come back.