LOS ANGELES -- Darnell Sweeney has seen more of the Dodgers this spring than any other player from minor league camp, so it's only fitting he was the hero of Saturday's 5-4 win over the Angels in 10 innings in the second game of the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium.
With runners on first and third base and one out against Jeremy Berg, Sweeney hit a fly ball single to win the game.
"I haven't played in a triple deck like this, ever," Sweeney said. "It felt good to get into the game for the first time at Dodger Stadium, put a good swing on a good pitch and get a hit."
Sweeney, 23, hit .275/.329/.455 with 34 doubles, 16 triples and 11 home runs for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga last year while playing shortstop and second base. It's only fitting that on a night when a 5.4 earthquake centered in La Habra shook Dodger Stadium, the game was ended by a member of the Quakes.
"That's one thing I really wasn't looking forward to, the ground shaking," said Sweeney, a Miami native.
One inning earlier, it looked like a different Quakes infielder might have a walk-off hit, as Corey Seager bated with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth.
A Quake walk-off would only be appropriate.— Sons of Steve Garvey (@sosgsosg) March 29, 2014
Seager struck out, and was followed by fellow highly-rated prospect Joc Pederson, who had homered in the eighth to tie the game at 4-4. But Pederson hit a grounder to Matt Long, the Angels left fielder playing in between first and second base as part of a five-man infield. Long threw home for a force out, then catcher Hank Conger threw to second base to force Chone Figgins, who inexplicably stopped in between first and second, probably trying to avoid getting tagged (maybe that triggered Adam Kennedy's rant).
That was 7-6-2 if you're scoring at home.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia tried the five-man infield again in the 10th, but this time Sweeney beat him with a fly ball to no man's land in left center field.
"It was kind of weird, all you have to do is hit it to the outfield," explained Sweeney, who said he will start 2014 with Double-A Chattanooga. "You still have to stay with your approach. My approach is just to get a ball over the plate and put a good swing on it."
In the clubhouse Sweeney, after he washed off the Powerade shower he received on the field, had a big smile on his face. His parents stayed up to watch the game, which ended at 1:52 a.m. ET, so they got to see their son's walkoff.
In Arizona, it is common practice for players from minor league camp to suit up for the major league team during games. Many times they aren't used but are there as reinforcements or late-inning replacements if needed. Sweeney joined the Dodgers in 14 of their 21 Cactus League games in Arizona. Two of the games he didn't suit up were day-night split squad games, so he was with the major league team for 14 out of 19 days in the desert, plus this weekend for the Freeway Series.
Sweeney has played in nine games, more than any other Dodgers player from minor league camp this spring. Trayvon Robinson, the pinch runner who scored on Sweeney's single, is second with eight games. For Sweeney, who is 4-for-13 (.308) with a double this spring, getting familiar with the major leaguers has helped.
"It made it a lot easier, going over as many times as I did to get to know the guys and kick around with these guys," Sweeney said, still smiling. "It was fun."
Dan Haren starts the Freeway Series finale Saturday night in Anaheim, but will only pitch an inning, or maybe two. He will be followed by Matt Magill and other minor leaguers. I would imagine the Dodgers didn't bring 2013 second-round pick Tom Windle to town just to watch, so look for him to possibly pitch an inning at some point. With the regular season resumption now just one day away, the only pitcher from the major league bullpen who might pitch Saturday night is Brandon League.
Manager Don Mattingly said the starting position players would only play a few innings in the finale. Tyler Skaggs starts for the Angels on the mound.