The aftermath of the Dodgers' 3-2 win over the Giants on Monday produced quite a scene, as walk-off hero Elian Herrera was interviewed by Jim Watson for Prime Ticket after knocking in the winning run with a bases-loaded single in the ninth inning.
Herrera, you see, was wearing a Luis Cruz jersey during the interview, which is perfect on so many levels.
Herrera was Cruz before anybody even knew who Cruz, or Cruuuuuuz, was. Herrera was the 27-year old minor league journeyman who came out of nowhere to produce for the Dodgers while playing all over the field. Herrera had his early season moments, with back-to-back game-winning hits to beat the Phillies in June, and in his first 31 games hit .305/.407/.390.
But a 9-for-64 slump got Herrera optioned at the All-Star break, when we hardly new who Cruz was.
Cruz is a year older than Herrera, had the early hot streak like Herrera did, hitting .268/.307/.439 with 16 RBI in his first 22 games. Then Cruz hit a mini-slump, a 3-for-23 skid that had most thinking the league had finally figured him out. Well, all Cruz has done is hit .339 in his last 46 games, cementing his status as fan favorite.
Cruz is even loved in the Dodgers clubhouse, where players have been wearing his Cruuuuuz number 47 shirseys during pregame workouts. Which brings us back to Monday.
After the game, after Herrera hit what he called the biggest hit of his career, the team mobbed him and tore his jersey and undershirt off, a tradition since Nick Punto joined the club on Aug. 25. Without a shirt to wear and needing to do the postgame interview with Watson, Herrera wore Cruz's jersey during the interview, then after getting soaked was wearing a Cruz shirsey in the clubhouse.
It was almost perfect.
With the six-game winning streak, the Dodgers have matched their longest of the season, but they also might soon be out of games. Manager Don Mattingly summed it up best after the game.
"What we've got to force them to win another game. We've got to take care of our part...It would be nice to know our game means something," Mattingly said. "This is fun. I love it. I wish we had a little more time."