So close: LA comeback fizzles vs. Phillies

2 years ago

LOS ANGELES — Thursday night had the potential to be one of the most memorable wins of the year for the Dodgers. Instead, a handful of decisions that didn’t go according to plan caused the comeback effort to unravel.

The Dodgers put together an four-run rally in the eighth inning to tie things up, but an ill-fated squeeze attempt interrupted their momentum, opening the door for the Phillies to score two in the top of the ninth off Daniel Hudson in L.A.’s 9-7 series-opening loss.

“We showed a lot of fight, and I thought we were going to come back and win that thing,” said starter Tyler Anderson, who gave the Dodgers some much-needed length with six innings but was tagged for seven runs. “We had a really good chance there. Yency [Almonte] did a great job coming in and shutting it down for a couple [innings], and then an exciting game at the end, but it didn’t go our way.”

Let’s take a look at how the Dodgers nearly pulled off that comeback — and where things went awry:

1. A failed safety squeeze
After the Dodgers entered the bottom of the eighth inning trailing by four runs, the first five batters of the inning reached against left-hander José Alvarado. Before there was even an out, the Dodgers had made it a one-run game. Alvardo struck out Cody Bellinger but was chased by Chris Taylor’s game-tying single, with right-hander Andrew Bellatti taking his place. Hanser Alberto came off the bench to pinch-hit for Gavin Lux, while Justin Turner, who himself had pinch-hit for Edwin Ríos, was replaced on third base by pinch-runner Austin Barnes.

Alberto bunted Bellatti’s first pitch foul, signaling to the Phillies that a squeeze might be coming. When Alberto bunted the second pitch fair, first baseman Rhys Hoskins was well prepared to charge the ball and throw Barnes out at home.

Manager Dave Roberts confirmed that he had called for the play.

“It was a safety squeeze, and he actually did it well,” said Roberts. “Hoskins over at first base charged well, and [played it perfectly].”

Mookie Betts drew a two-out walk, but Freddie Freeman, whose leadoff single had gotten things going, couldn’t come through again, leaving the bases loaded and the game knotted at 7.

2. An arduous top of the ninth
With the Phillies’ No. 8 and No. 9 hitters due up to open the top of the ninth inning, Roberts opted to go to Hudson instead of his closer, Craig Kimbrel. Hudson retired the first batter, Johan Camargo, but pinch-hitter Odúbel Herrera dropped a perfect bunt to third base that Max Muncy had no play on.

Hoskins then hit a comebacker that had double-play potential, but Hudson deflected the ball off his glove, and shortstop Trea Turner, who likely would’ve gotten the out at second, instead threw to first too late. Alec Bohm walked to load the bases, and a wild pitch and Bryce Harper sacrifice fly put the Phillies up by the decisive two runs.

It was a second straight tough outing for Hudson, who entered Wednesday’s series finale against the Pirates in Pittsburgh with the game tied before giving up a home run that put L.A. down for good in that one.

“It’s just been pretty bad command, especially with my fastball,” said Hudson. “Making me kind of have to lean on some other stuff, and just wasn’t very good the past two days. So, hopefully, I’ll bounce back from that and try to be ready to go the next time they ask me to go.”

3. An inability to capitalize
As quickly as the Dodgers fell behind, they found themselves with yet another opportunity to win it in the bottom of the ninth. With former Dodger Corey Knebel on the mound, Trea Turner hit a leadoff single, and Muncy and Will Smith drew walks to load the bases with no outs once again.

This time, however, nothing came of it. Three straight flyouts — the first two of which weren’t deep enough to bring in the runner from third — brought the night to an end in anticlimactic fashion as the Dodgers stranded the bases loaded for the second time in as many innings.

“Our pitching’s been so good that we haven’t been put in that position too often,” said Taylor, who made the final out. “I don’t know how many times we’ve been there. But we were able to kind of rally in the eighth and in the ninth a little bit, and just couldn’t come up with the big hit.”