The Dodgers were staring in the face their worst-ever series at Coors Field, down six runs with six outs to play, nearing a record-low offensive output for them in Denver. But after cutting the deficit in half in the eighth inning, the Dodgers rallied for five more runs in the ninth, capped off by a grand slam by red-hot rookie Andrew Toles in a stunning 10-8 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night.
The comeback widened the Dodgers’ lead in the National League West to 1½ games over San Francisco.
Down 8-2 to start the eighth inning, the Dodgers rallied for three runs and brought the tying run to the plate. But a potential Chase Utley single up the middle was instead fielded superbly by second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who threw out Utley to end the Dodgers’ threat.
Los Angeles scored again in the ninth and loaded the bases with two outs against closer Adam Ottavino, who had allowed one run in his 23 appearances this season. After a borderline first pitch that was called a strike, Toles could be seen at the plate mouthing, to put it mildly, “WTF?”
The second pitch caused nearly everyone else to say the same thing, as Toles launched an opposite-field shot over the wall in left field to give the Dodgers their first lead of the series.
The @Dodgers trailed by 6 runs in the 8th inning. Entering today, teams were 1-448 this season when trailing by 6+ runs in the 8th or later.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 1, 2016
For Toles, it completed a 3-for-4 night with a double and five RBI. The 24-year-old rookie, who was out of baseball in 2015, is hitting .397/.463/.690 in his first 25 major league games.
It helped wipe away the Dodgers scoring only one run in the first two games of the series, then fall behind 8-2 in the finale.
Bud Norris, called into essentially spot start duty, walked three in a four-batter stretch in the first inning, with a single mixed in between to tie the game at 1-1. With the bases loaded, journeyman and former independent leaguer Stephen Cardullo continued his 29th birthday bash with a grand slam, putting Colorado up 5-1.
Cardullo hit his first major league home run earlier in the day.
After Rich Hill threw 41 pitches while warming up for Tuesday’s game, only to see the game rained out, the Dodgers were cautious with his blister issues, scratching Hill from his Wednesday start not wanting him to miss extended time, like the seven weeks between real starts from July to August.
Norris was on five days rest but was also pressed into duty somewhat unexpectedly, as he was available out of the bullpen to begin the series. It made manager Dave Roberts say this in between games of the doubleheader:
Roberts: "it's going to be a bullpen game."— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) August 31, 2016
That it was in the nightcap, with Norris done after three innings and six runs in, snapping a streak of eight straight games with the Dodgers starting pitcher lasting at least five innings.
Since joining the Dodgers, Norris on the road has allowed 24 runs and 32 hits in 18⅔ innings, with 17 strikeouts and 10 walks.
But the Dodgers somehow escaped with the win, and ended with a winning record in August at 15-13.
After Thursday’s off day, the Dodgers are back home to host the Padres for three games, with Julio Urias starting the series opener on Friday night. Clayton Richard starts for San Diego and he throws with his left hand.
Game 2 particulars
Home runs: Chase Utley (12), Andrew Toles (3); Stephen Cardullo (2), Nolan Arenado (36)
WP - Luis Avilan (1-0): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
LP - Adam Ottavino (0-1): 1 IP, 3 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Sv - Kenley Jansen (40): 1 IP, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts