Jamey Wright was not the pitcher of record in the 4-3 loss last night that officially eliminated the Dodgers from the playoffs.
You wouldn’t know that by the veteran right-hander’s demeanor after the game, when he said he was “fighting tears.”
“It hurts. Hurts bad. It’s a fun season. It’s a September that I never got to experience. For me, it was a good one.”
Wright, who has never pitched in the playoffs during a career that began in 1996, allowed a two-run double to Marco Scutaro in the fifth inning that scored the Giants’ third and fourth runs. Those runs proved to be the difference after A.J. Ellis’ seventh-inning homer brought the Dodgers within a run.
Scutaro had already extended his hitting streak to 19 games in the third inning. Wright had never faced switch-hitter Angel Pagan, but was very successful in his career against Scutaro — holding him to a .105 batting average (2 for 19).
So with Pagan at the plate and Scutaro on deck in the fifth inning, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly ordered Wright to intentionally walk Pagan to get to Scutaro.
“Pretty simple really,” Mattingly said. “Scutaro’s 2 for 19 off Jamey before that. Pretty simple. Left-right (matchup). Scutaro, I know has been a good hitter for them over there, but at that point I’m going to go Scutaro all the time. It’s one of those moves that obviously when it doesn’t work people question it, but it’s one of those moves you pretty much make every time.”
Wright said his 2-1 sinker that Scutaro hit for the double to right field didn’t miss.
“I sit there and think about that pitch, that sinker away — out of the 19 at-bats he has two hits,” Wright said. “I guarantee you four or five, maybe six outs have come on that exact same pitch. It was away, a sinker away, and I just missed with the one right before that. I probably could’ve mixed it up and thrown another curveball, but that’s why I’m still here. That’s why I’ve been pitching as long as I have, because of that sinker.
“I’d rather get beat with that than leave a curveball up, a slider up, whatever. I can live with that, getting beat with a sinker, a ball that he slaps the other way down the line. That’s OK. He’s a veteran hitter, just like I’m a veteran pitcher. He’s hot, no doubt about it. Proved it tonight.”
You can’t help but feel for the 37-year-old Wright, who had not been scored on in 16 of his previous 17 appearances before Tuesday. He came to spring training without a contract — for the sixth straight season — and pitched his way into an important role out of the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Now, he can only hope that his 2012 season (5-3, 3.72 ERA, 1.507 WHIP) was good enough to make him part of the team’s plans in 2013.
“This has been one of my favorite seasons that I’ve ever had,” Wright said. “Great group of guys, good coaching staff, great city. I’ll probably have to stand in line with people who want to come here.”