On Jackie Robinson Day, the Dodgers basically got clowned on by Cody Bellinger and the Cubs for eight innings of the game.
Thankfully though, they play nine innings, and two rookies in James Outman and Miguel Vargas combined to setup the veteran in David Peralta for a walk-off win as they stole one to tie the series in a 2-1 victory.
Rewind a bit.
After a rough start to his season, including getting shelled for nine runs his last time out, Michael Grove came back and had one of his best starts tonight. He began with a nine pitch 1st frame, thanks in part to Jason Heyward‘s defense, then escaped minor threats in the 2nd (single, passed ball) and 3rd (walk, stolen base), before notching a seven-pitch 4th inning.
After a lead-off walk to begin the 5th, Grove erased that by inducing a double play, but then made his only mistake of the game by allowing a Patrick Wisdom homer to make it 1-0 for the Cubs. Grove then got the first two outs in the 6th before exiting the game due to matchup reasons.
He was excellent in a spot where the team really needed somebody in the back-end to be that: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 79 Pitches.
Alex Vesia entered in relief and closed out the 6th by getting a foul pop, then got two outs in the 7th with some help. A single was turned into an out by Austin Barnes gunning down a runner, the first by a Dodgers catcher this year. He then walked a batter, but rebounded with a strikeout before being removed.
Yency Almonte was next and he ended the 7th with a strikeout. However, the 8th did not go his way at all. He got one out on a diving play from Outman, but then gave up a single and walked the bases loaded on eight straight balls. That led to Caleb Ferguson entering, who started with five balls but got three strikes on them thanks to a call from an umpire and two chases from Ian Happ. Ferguson then came back and had Seiya Suzuki confused with by his cutter and got him to strikeout to complete the Houdini act.
Shelby Miller closed the book on the Cubs in the 9th, issuing a walk and a stolen base but getting the final out. In all the carnage, his ERA remains at 0.00. This would all prove to be important work later.
On the opposite side, Jameson Taillon held the Dodgers offense completely quiet, though not without help. The chances against him came early when they had a single and a walk in the 1st with one out but couldn’t capitalize, and then in the 2nd it looked like they would take the lead behind a single and a Heyward homer. However, old friend Cody was stalking his familiar grounds in center and came up with a dong robbing catch to save two runs and asked the crowd what the problem was.
Nothing would come of that inning, Taillion would then get the side in order in both the 3rd and 4th, then would allow only a walk in the 5th before his day was done.
He only threw 85 pitches, but their pen took over in the 6th. They were arguably even better than Taillon was, at least for the most part, allowing just a hit by pitch in the 6th and a walk in the 8th through three shutout.
Of course, that’s “for the most part” because Michael Fulmer then entered in the 9th looking for the save. He did get an out to start, but then Outman singled to right and Vargas followed by ripping a ball down the line for a double to put two in scoring position. The stage seemed set for Heyward, but after getting a bad strike call, he whiffed and the game was back on the line with just an out remaining.
Thankfully, Peralta was the pinch hitter and stepped up to knock the first pitch for a no-shift-rule single to right to score both runners and walk it off in a dramatic victory.
What a shot.
The Dodgers improve to 8-7. Please don’t go back to .500 again.
The series concludes in a day game tomorrow at 10:10 AM HT/1:10 PM PT/4:10 PM ET as Julio Urias will face off against Drew Smyly.