The Miraculous Monday
Monday started with a bang and ended with one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports.
It was Jackie Robinson Day throughout baseball and some key NBA postseason games were going to take place. ESPN was broadcasting the Dodger game because of the Dodger history with Jackie Robinson so all eyes in Los Angeles were going to be on the Dodgers because the Dodger / Red matchup had about as much intrigue as any game could have in April.
You had five ex-Dodgers starting against the Dodgers including the whole outfield. You had Clayton Kershaw making his first start of 2019. You had two of the most polarizing ex-Dodgers batting back to back.
What kind of reaction would Puig get?
What kind of reaction would Kemp get?
Can the 2019 version of Clayton Kershaw help the beleaguered rotation or will he simply add wood to the rotation fire?
Who would step up in the bullpen?
Along with the Dodger game, the Clippers were playing at Oracle Arena and the only question of that game was by how much the Warriors would win. No one except a few hardy Clipper fans and NBA junkies would be paying attention.
Clayton started the game with an out but quickly gave up a hard hit single. Up stepped Puig and he got a nice ovation, not a great one. He tipped his cap and the ovation picked up but was hardly worthy of the Wild Horse. Whatever, he’s a Red now and he looked good in red. Two strikes down, Puig teed off on Clayton slugging a home run over the head of the guy who has basically replaced his bat in the lineup. Dodgers down 2 – 0 and it didn’t look good for Clayton. Velocity was around 90 – 91 but as the game continued, Clayton showed he can still be a force on the mound. Once Puig touched home, Clayton gave up just three singles the rest of the way and left the game having garnered twenty-one outs with the Dodgers tied at 2 – 2.
As Clayton left the game if you peaked at the Clipper / Warrior game you noticed they were losing 94 – 63 and weren’t surprised.
Pedro Baez had an easy eighth inning but so did Robert Stephenson and the game went to the 9th tied at 2. Kenley Jansen came in and quickly gave up a long double to Curt Casali. Jansen seemed to get his nasty going and struck out the dangerous Suarez. It was Puig again, but this time his one-time teammate got the best of him on a deep fly to Verdugo. Matt Kemp came up and looked hopeless on the first two wicked strikes. With the 0 – 2 Jansen was supposed to hit the target high but he missed the target and Kemp lofted a weak fly-drive toward 2nd base but there was no second baseman there and it landed giving the Reds a 3 – 2 lead.
If you peaked at the Clipper / Warrior game you noticed that the one time 31 point Warrior lead had been cut to 14 by the end of the 3rd quarter. If you were a Clipper fan you nodded your head because all year they had come back from huge leads. Even if they were destined to lose, at least they had erased the embarrassing 31 point deficit. You turned back to the Dodger game.
All the runs driven in by the Reds had been driven in by Puig and Kemp. Meanwhile, AJ Pollock who was signed to replace the offense of Kemp and defense of Puig was struggling once again to drive in runs. In the first Pollock had struck out in the first with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Any contact would have driven in the tying run. He couldn’t make contact. In the 3rd he struck out again with a runner on first. In the fifth, Pollock finally made his mark by walking with the bases loaded to tie the game at two. Pollock was not needed in the 9th.
David Freese led off with a walk against Raisel Iglesias. Joc Pederson got his first walk-off hit and he did it only the way that Joc Pederson could do it. He gave a mighty swing and blasted the ball to RCF, he dropped the bat, he pointed to his teammates, he finally started to jog, but while he was jogging the CF had not given up and even though Joc thought he’d hit a no-doubter, in the end, the ball barely cleared the fence. The Dodgers had won. Clayton had been brilliant. Puig had hit a home run. Kemp had a key single. It was about a good a game a conflicted Dodger fan could have asked for.
Meanwhile, the Clipper fan peaked at the score and holy shit, the Clippers were now tied with the Warriors. And just as you realize that the game is tied and that they had erased a 31 point lead Steph Curry hits a three-pointer. You can do nothing but shrug because you expect Steph to hit that shot. Except, for this night the script is flipped. The Warriors would miss the rest of their shots. The Clippers would not. Rookie Landsey Shamet would hit his own three-pointer. Montrezl Harrell would sink two free throws with five seconds to go and give the Clippers an insurmountable four-point lead.
The Clippers didn’t just beat the World Champion Warriors, they beat them at home, they came back from a 31 point deficit, they beat them with Pat Beverly fouled out, they beat them with two rookies playing in the backcourt.
It turned out to be the greatest comeback in Clipper History. It also turned out to be the greatest comeback in NBA postseason history. Los Angeles may not have noticed but basketball fans did. All over the world.
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