My dinger with Andre Ethier
Above Andre Ethier's locker stall is an autographed Manny Ramirez trading card.
It features Ethier too. But when mentioning most players alongside Ramirez, they tend not to receive the same attention.
On Thursday, however, Ethier made certain he would not go unnoticed and turned the star slugger into a footnote of sorts. Ethier delivered a walk-off home run – his third of the season – to lift the Dodgers above the visiting Atlanta Braves, 5-4.
It came at a moment when the crowd was anticipating Ramirez to do something to salvage the game. Instead, it was Ethier who emerged with his fifth walk-off hit of the season.
“Knowing the situation … knowing that Manny’s up,” Ethier said, you’ve got to "be aggressive.”
In one fell swoop, Ethier dug the team out of a two-run deficit and supplied a one-run lead to preserve the Dodgers' lead atop baseball. For a brief moment, it helped fans forget earlier miscues, like when Ramirez struck out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Dodgers trailing 4-2.
Consequently, about half of the 46,399 fans in attendance began to file out. With Ramirez having taken what seemed to be his final at-bat, many lost interest.
However, those who left early missed the Dodgers' 29th comeback win this season.
“It’s really amazing what Andre does here at home,” Dodgers pitcher Randy Wolf said. “His walk-offs are unbelievable. It’s funny because you see everybody in the clubhouse and everybody is amazed. To see guys kind of with an awe-stricken face is pretty cool.”
The Braves were held scoreless in the eighth and ninth innings as the Dodgers came back.
In order for the Dodgers to see a Ramirez at-bat in the ninth, L.A. could only have given up two outs through the first three batters. Ramirez was the fourth.
The Dodgers forged ahead without any trouble.
Juan Pierre singled to left field on a 2-2 count. Rafael Furcal got a base hit to push Pierre onto third. And then as Ethier approached the batter’s box, Ramirez prepared to go through his practice swings.
Ethier’s three-run homer over the right field wall relieved Ramirez of any responsibility from that point on.
"Well, from the looks of things and the sounds of things,” Vin Scully said on the broadcast, “the crowd is not disappointed it will not see Manny Ramirez bat."
-- Mario Aguirre
Video: Andre Ethier talks with reporters following his walk-off home run that helped the Dodgers to a 5-4 win. Credit: Mario Aguirre / Los Angeles Times