The Dodgers came through again on Wednesday night, erasing a two-run deficit to deliver their MLB-best 10th walk-off victory of the season, a 5-4 win over the hapless White Sox. Let’s take a moment to relive the Dodgers’ 38th comeback win of 2017.
The White Sox are in full rebuild mode, and have lost 27 of their last 35 games, including 14 of their last 16 road games. Chicago had a chance to leave Los Angeles with a win, up 4-2 entering the ninth, but were left with a unique situation.
None of their relievers have recorded a save this season, the result of midseason deals to continue the rebuild. David Robertson (13 saves this season for Chicago), Tyler Clippard (two saves) and Anthony Swarzak (one save) were all traded in the last month.
Gregory Infante, who was a non-roster invitee in spring training with the Dodgers in 2013, started the ninth for the White Sox, and retired Justin Turner for the first out. At that point, per the FanGraphs game log the Dodgers had a 3.8-percent win expectancy.
The Baseball-Reference game log showed a five-percent win expectancy at the same point. The takeaway: the odds were still long for the Dodgers.
With a Cody Bellinger pinch hitting, manager Rick Renteria turned to left-hander Aaron Bummer, who like Infante has no career saves. Bellinger, who was out of the starting lineup for just the fourth time in his 99-game career, delivered a single up the middle.
The left-handed rookie is hitting .270/.323/.533 against southpaw pitchers this season.
Then came another pitching change. Jake Petricka, who forced home the go-ahead run with a hit by pitch then allowed a pair of two-run singles in the eighth inning on Tuesday night, was called upon to finish things off for the White Sox. Petricka doesn’t have a save this season, but did save 16 games in 2014-15 for Chicago.
Logan Forsythe greeted him with a double down the left field line to score Bellinger, pulling the Dodgers within one. Austin Barnes, who hit a two-run single against Petricka on Tuesday, singled again on Wednesday, but his knock to center field was hit too hard to score Forsythe from second base.
Petricka during the two-game series faced nine batters. He allowed six hits and hit a batter, allowing four runs of his own and all four of his inherited runners.
The Dodgers swept their 16th series of the season — best in MLB. Even if you remove the sweeps this season (a 46-0 game record), the Dodgers would be 39-34 (.534), a winning percentage good enough to lead the National League Central and behind only Washington, Colorado and Arizona in the entire NL.
Yasiel Puig, who recorded his 50th walk of the season earlier in the game, and who walked twice to load the bases to spark rallies on Tuesday night as well, ran the count to 3-2 against Petricka, but nearly struck out, barely fouling off a ball at the plate.
Then, Puig grabbed the ball and did this:
Mary Hart didn’t know what to think. It didn’t go unnoticed.
that was awesome. Also, you tried to eat a baseball. That was weird.— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) August 17, 2017
I thought it was manzana #hungrypuig ♂️— Yasiel Puig (@YasielPuig) August 17, 2017
Manzana ---> Apple! #NewWordOfTheDay— Enrique Hernández (@kikehndez) August 17, 2017
“I wonder if they kept that ball, with the bite mark on it,” said analyst Nomar Garciaparra on the SportsNet LA broadcast.
Two pitches later — on the eighth pitch of the at-bat — Puig hit the ball into the gap in left center field. He hit it into no-man’s land, and with Barnes flying from first base, it was obvious the winning run would score with ease. Look where Barnes is before any White Sox outfielder was anywhere close to the ball.
Barnes scored from first easily without a throw.
Joe Davis didn’t get to call any home games in his first year calling the Dodgers, but now as the full-time announcer he has crammed in two years worth of memorable calls into one. Davis was up to the task in calling the Dodgers’ 10th walk-off win of the season.
#PuigYourHero! Win number 8⃣5⃣ for the @Dodgers comes via their 10th #walkoff of the season. pic.twitter.com/s2jytycIF4— MLB (@MLB) August 17, 2017
“Can Yasiel Puig deliver? You bet he can! Into the gap in left center. Not a question of if. The question is who, and when. Tonight, it’s Puig in the ninth!”
Davis rises to the occasion at the right moments, and last night delivered in his own right, even invoking a much more exciting game of Clue to describe the game-winner.
To Davis’ point, the question of who is real, of the 10 Dodgers walk-off wins this season, nine different players have delivered the winning RBI.
The Dodgers are 8-27 (.229) when trailing after eight innings in 2017. The rest of MLB in those situations is 141-1,426 (.090).
Even with the excitement of the call, Davis let the moment breathe as well, going silent for 51 seconds afterward, letting the celebration do the talking before adding, “How do you like that, folks? Yasiel Puig, the hero.”
During the euphoria, Puig found his man, hitting coach Turner Ward. Before the game, they were both wearing new t-shirts.
Turner Ward's new shirt. pic.twitter.com/w2olq1Bm7g— Joe Davis (@Joe_Davis) August 16, 2017
Then, life imitated art:
What a game.
It was so good, it was worth overlooking this cringe-worthy sponsored celebration pun: