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Dodgers not too rundown for a walk-off win

Bellinger’s home run is LA’s first walk-off win of 2020

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

On an odd night that saw the Dodgers benefit on two different rundowns, and also saw them make two errant throws that led to runs, they managed to outlast the Rockies on Saturday night with something that eluded them all year: the walk-off win.

Cody Bellinger lined the second pitch he saw from Daniel Bard in the ninth, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 win. The only confusion for Bellinger was whether it was a home run, as he didn’t see the ball off the bat.

“I thought I hit it like up in the air,” Bellinger said, “When I was halfway to second base, then I thought he caught the ball. So I didn’t know what was going on, really, at all.”

Saturday was the one year anniversary of the Dodgers’ last walk-off win, the last of 12 such victories in 2019 (hat tip to Craig Minami for this fun fact).

The game was still tied thanks to a fortuitous ricochet in the top of the eighth inning. Trevor Story, who doubled, was on third with one out, and the Dodgers infield was in on the grass, trying to prevent the go-ahead run. Nolan Arenado grounded a ball off third baseman Max Muncy’s glove, but the ball kicked right to Corey Seager, who threw home, starting the 5-6-2-5-1 rundown that retired Story.

It was the second time Saturday night that the Dodgers benefited from a rundown.

Mookie Betts led off the game with an eight-pitch walk, then aggressively took third when Corey Seager singled to left field. Just when it looked like Seager getting caught trying to take an extra base on the play would cripple the Dodgers’ first scoring chance, he was able to stay in a rundown long enough to allow Betts to score.

This rundown was scored 7-5-3-4-3-6.

Chris Taylor followed in the second inning with an opposite field home run, but after that the pickings were slim against Kyle Freeland, who retired 12 of his next 14 batters faced. The only two batters in that stretch that reached against Freeland were immediately erased by double plays, the byproduct of eight ground ball outs induced by the Rockies left-hander.

Freeland started the seventh, but after a hit by pitch, a double, and a walk, he was chased. Even with Freeland out of the game, extracting runs were like pulling teeth. Down one, with the bases loaded and nobody out, the Dodgers were only able to push across the equalizer, on a double play that Taylor scorched (108.1 mph, .640 expected batting average) harder than his home run (100 mph, .280 xBA).

Nearly throwing it all away

Up a run in the sixth, Brusdar Graterol allowed a leadoff infield single by Story, which was exacerbated when Corey Seager threw the ball into the visiting dugout. That moved Story into scoring position, and he was cashed in on a ground ball and sacrifice fly to tie the game.

In the seventh, it was Scott Alexander who walked Ryan McMahon to lead off the inning, and he was advanced to third on a pair of outs. Old friend Matt Kemp was called in to pinch hit, and the right-handed Blake Treinen was called in to face him, but instead his 3-1 pitch was wild, allowing McMahon to score the go-ahead run.

Colorado had the leadoff runner on base in each of the last four innings. Two scored.

May’s day

Dustin May was effective, again, allowing just one run in his five innings, a solo home run in the third inning by rookie Sam Hilliard, who has three home runs in seven games at Dodger Stadium.

May hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his six starts. But he also hasn’t been missing bats much. He induced six swinging strikes on Saturday, which is right on his average this season (6.3), and struck out only one. Among the 95 qualified pitchers in MLB, May’s 2.79 ERA ranks 24th, while his 16.7-percent strikeout rate is 80th.

“I think that there is something to his mix. The cutter promotes soft contact, the two-seamer, soft contact, and that’s what he goes to a lot,” manager Dave Roberts said. “An out’s an out, so whether it’s by way of punch or soft grounder we take outs.

“But the punch, I still believe is in there, and it’ll start to pick up.”

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Chris Taylor (2), Cody Bellinger (7); Sam Hilliard (2)

WP — Kenley Jansen (1-0): ⅓ IP, 1 strikeout

LP — Daniel Bard (1-2): 0 IP, 1 hit, 1 run

Up next

The Dodgers close out the series with Ross Stripling starting the finale on Sunday (1:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), facing Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela. Will Smith will be activated off the injured list to catch in this one.