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Dodgers’ first walk-off win completes sweep of Rangers

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Dodgers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

In a game highlighted by a collision at home plate, the game ended on a close play at the plate in which Kiké Hernandez was untouched, lifting the Dodgers to a 3-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday night and a two-game interleague sweep at Dodger Stadium.

It was the first walk-off win for the Dodgers, who improved to 19-6 in their last 25 games.

Hernandez walked to open the 11th inning against old friend Jesse Chavez, pitching in his third inning of relief. Hernandez then surprised Shin-Soo Choo on a fly ball to left field, tagging up and getting into scoring position.

Yasiel Puig was intentionally walked with one out, and Matt Bush entered in relief. Logan Forsythe walked to load the bases, then Austin Barnes followed with a tapper back to the mound that looked like his second double play ball in a three-inning span, but Bush’s throw home was wild, allowing Hernandez to evade a tag attempt by catcher Carlos Perez.

Adam Liberatore pitched a scoreless 11th inning for the win. Six Dodgers relievers combined for six scoreless innings to close out the win.

The Dodgers improved to 3-3 in extra-inning games in 2018, including 1-1 at home.

Missed opportunity

The Dodgers nearly won this game before extras, but frittered away a golden scoring opportunity in the ninth inning.

Chavez pitched the frame for Texas, and walked Puig on five pitches to open the inning. Logan Forsythe singled to put runners on the corners with nobody out, but Barnes with the infield in bounced into a double play at first base, keeping Puig at third.

With two outs pinch hitter Yasmani Grandal drove a ball to the warning track in center field, but Delino DeShields made a fantastic leaping catch at the wall to keep the game going.

The return

Kenta Maeda was rusty after missing two weeks with a hip strain, walking three while only striking out one. He allowed a pair of runs, both in the fourth inning.

Maeda was pulled after five innings and just 76 pitches, but this was also his first start back from the disabled list, and at the moment he is one of just four healthy starting pitchers on the active roster. And even at five innings, Maeda represented progress for the injury-depleted staff.

Though extra innings was the main culprit on Wednesday, this was the eighth time in the last 15 games that the Dodgers’ bullpen threw more innings than the starting pitcher.

The kerfuffle

With two outs in the third inning, Hernandez singled to right field. Matt Kemp tried to score from second base, and very quickly the thought turned from “Why on Earth did third base coach Chris Woodward send Kemp home on that play?” to “What exactly is the home plate collision rule again?”

Kemp was out from me to you, and opted to truck catcher Robinson Chirinos, and their extracurricular activities afterward were what got both players ejected.

The rule in question is 7.13, an attempt to avoid such collisions at the plate.

This comment on the rule is instructive:

“If a catcher blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall not find that the runner initiated an avoidable collision in violation of this Rule 7.13.”

Chirinos had a right to block the plate with the ball, so it’s just a matter of whether Kemp going through Chirinos was deemed excessive or unnecessary.

More from the same rule comment:

The failure by the runner to make an effort to touch the plate, the runner’s lowering of the shoulder, or the runner’s pushing through with his hands, elbows or arms, would support a determination that the runner deviated from the pathway in order to initiate contact with the catcher in violation of Rule 7.13.

A rarity

Adrian Beltre has always been a fantastic defender at the hot corner, and even showed why with a few plays on Wednesday. Beltre is 11th all-time in Defensive Wins Above Replacement (28.5).

But on Wednesday a rare miscue by Beltre turned into a run in the second inning when a throw to third base on a double steal went right through Beltre’s legs and into left field for an error, allowing Yasiel Puig to score.

Up next

The Dodgers have their second off day of the homestand on Thursday, then welcome the Giants to town for a weekend series at Dodger Stadium. Alex Wood was bumped to Saturday, which means Ross Stripling starts Friday’s opener, a 7:10 p.m. PT start. San Francisco counters with southpaw Derek Holland.

Wednesday particulars

Home run: Justin Turner (2)

WP - Adam Liberatore (2-1): 1 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

LP - Jesse Chavez (2-1): 2⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 unearned run, 3 walks, 1 strikeout