John Ely entered the 10th inning Tuesday with all the confidence that comes with winning the Pacific Coast League’s triple crown of pitching.
After taking the loss in the Dodgers’ 6-3 defeat to the San Diego Padres, Ely said, “hopefully I get a chance to do it again.”
The 26-year-old right-hander who once spawned something called “Elymania” has a 13.50 earned-run average one game into his 2012 season. He allowed a leadoff single to Yonder Alonso and got burned on a bunt single by Everth Cabrera; both runners advanced a base when Dodgers third baseman Luis Cruz’s throw to first hit Cabrera in the back and trickled into right field.
Alexi Amarista grounded out and Ely intentionally walked Will Venable to load the bases for Logan Forsythe. Ely got ahead 1-2 but left a fastball over the plate and Forsythe lined a two-RBI single into center field.
“It’s one of those things — call it a bad break, call it whatever you want — I’ve still got to make pitches after that,” Ely said. “I kept one, one or two, up in the zone. Big league hitters will make you pay for that.”
Chase Headley, named the NL’s player of the month for August earlier in the day, added an insurance run on an RBI single that scored Venable.
Don Mattingly said the bullpen was at “the end of the rope,” having used up three pitchers prior to Ely on Tuesday, four Monday and four on Sunday –a total of eight different relievers over the span of three days.
“The situation really was (Ely’s) right there,” Mattingly said.
Ely was a starter all season at Triple-A Albuquerque and a very good one, leading the PCL with 14 wins, a 3.20 ERA and 165 strikeouts. Tuesday’s game was his first relief appearance of the season.
“It’s definitely different,” Ely said. “Every run could mean the end of the game. You got a guy on, obviously they’re going to be trying to get him over and get him in. It’s a different feel, but I’ve still got to put up zeroes.”
“It felt good. I felt prepared. I’ve done it before and hopefully get a chance to do it again. I felt good about it coming in. Got a tough break in the second inning.”