LOS ANGELES — No matter the date on the schedule, no matter the record, whenever the Dodgers and Giants square off against one another, they play each other tough. It looked like an easy five-run victory for LA on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, but as baseball shows us time and time again, the game isn’t over until that 27th out is recorded.
The Dodgers entered the ninth inning up 9-4. Not too long later, the Giants were down a run with the tying run at second base, the go-ahead run at first base and nobody out. Three consecutive Giant hitters had reached base, causing Dave Roberts to turn to Kenley Jansen to not only save the game, but try and prevent LA from losing the game, but Jansen allowed two more singles that sandwiched a walk. “It’s tough, baseball is a very contagious game,” Joc Pederson said. “When a team gets hitting, it’s hard to slow them down.”
Tyler Austin stepped up to the plate. On the first pitch of the at-bat, he laid down a bunt. Having just switched from right field to first base, Cody Bellinger charged towards the ball, picked it up, and gunned the runner out at third base, getting the first out of the inning. “It was a game-changing play right there,” Roberts said.
The play would be reviewed, but it would be upheld. Had the runner been safe, the bases would have been loaded with no outs. “Just started crashing once he started squaring around, just picked it up and fielded it as quick as I could.” Bellinger said.
Buster Posey then flew out to Alex Verdugo, bringing Brandon Belt up with the game on the line. On an 0-1 pitch, he connected on a 93 mph cutter, lining it to right field. Kyle Garlick tracked it down, and made the catch for the final out, giving the Dodgers the thrilling 9-8 victory over the Giants.
“My heart was pumping pretty fast,” Garlick said about the ball being hit to him. “I got a good jump on it. I know I was close to the fence, but wasn’t going to let that thing drop.”
Yet again, the two teams were involved in a one-run game, the seventh time this season a game between the two was decided by only a run. “It was weird,” Bellinger said following the game. “Probably would have been the weirdest loss I’ve ever been apart of. Good thing it wasn’t.”
Good thing indeed, because there was so much good from the Dodgers side that would have been forgotten about had they lost. “I think if you take out that ninth inning it was a very well-played game from us all the way around,” Roberts said.
Facing Madison Bumgarner as a Giant for potentially the last time at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers wasted no time in spoiling his final start. After two stolen bases by Enrique Hernandez after being hit by a pitch in the first inning, Max Muncy singled him in to put LA ahead 1-0. It was the first time Muncy and Bumgarner squared off since the infamous “Go get it out of the ocean” incident earlier in the month.
The damage came in the fourth inning, when the Dodgers tacked five runs on Bumgarner, and got him pulled from the game before even finishing the inning. Chris Taylor led the inning off with a double. It would be the first of eight hits in the inning for LA. One day after hitting his first career big-league homer, Garlick stepped up and crushed his second career homer into the left-field stands.
“I was trying to put together some good at bats, help the team win,” Garlick said. “He left it over the plate, I happened to square it up.”
This wouldn’t be the only two-run homer of the inning, as Austin Barnes followed with a two-run shot of his own only two batters later. For Barnes, it was one of three hits for him on the night, as he fell a triple short of the cycle. Four more singles in the inning gave the Dodgers a 6-0 lead after four.
It turns out all the extra runs would be beneficial, but early on, it looked as if they wouldn’t be needed. This was partly due to the dominant start from Julio Urias. With the Dodgers playing so many consecutive games, Roberts announced a few days ago that Urias would be getting a spot start to give the starters all an extra day of rest.
“He was on the attack from the beginning,” Roberts said. “Really impressive. Really encouraging.”
Urias threw three scoreless innings in 43 pitches, allowing one hit and striking out five. “I came out and thought about attacking the strike zone, that’s what I’ve been focusing on this year,” Urias said. “I feel blessed and happy to just be here. While my arm feels good, I’m going to try my best, no matter the situation. I’m going to go out and try to do my job.”
The original plan was to have him throw two innings, but with how dominant he was Roberts decided to use him for a third.
After Urias, the Dodgers turned to J.T. Chargois. This was the first big-league appearance for Chargois since April 10, as he’s spent most of the season in Triple-A with Oklahoma City. He threw two innings, recording five of his six outs via the strikeout. He allowed one run on two hits.
The Dodgers would add two more runs in the seventh inning to push the lead to five, insurance runs that would prove to be needed, thanks to a two-run, pinch-hit home run from Joc Pederson. For Pederson, it was the third pinch-hit homer of his career, and his 20th homer of 2019. All 20 of his home runs have come against right-handed pitching.
When asked how he was able to get a good swing on the ball after spending all game on the bench, Pederson didn’t really have an answer. “Wish I knew,” he said. “Pinch-hitting is really hard. I tried to swing at a good pitch.”
Not only did Joc provide fireworks at the plate, he provided some on defense as well, at first base. “It was a pretty fun experience,” Pederson said about getting time at first. “It adds to the versatility. It worked out to be able to play another position.”
This isn’t something totally shocking, as in warmups Pederson has been spotted taking grounders at first base. With a crowded outfield, and A.J. Pollock returning from the Injured List soon, spots in the starting lineup are going to be hard to come by. With that being the case, Pederson is showing that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure he’s in the lineup as often as he can be.
“It can get monotonous in the outfield,” he said. “Chris Woodward helped me a lot last year. If you want to play, you got to find a way. If that’s an open spot, whatever I can do to get in the lineup.”
Josh Sborz made his major-league debut, pitching a 1-2-3 eight inning before running into trouble in the ninth.
WP: J. T. Chargois (1-0) 2 IP, 1 ER, 5 SO
LP: Madison Bumgarner (3-7) 3 2⁄3 IP, 6 ER, 10 H, 3 SO
SV: Kenley Jansen (22) 1 IP, 1 ER, 2 H
Home runs: Kyle Garlick (2) Austin Barnes (5) Joc Pederson (20) Mike Yastrzemski (4)
The Dodgers will host the Rockies for three games, as they wrap up their 11-game homestand. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. PT on Friday night.