Peralta's walk-off provides Dodgers' first big moment of '23

April 16th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers signed in early February, the outfielder knew the opportunities weren’t going to be the same as when he played with the D-backs and Rays. 

Peralta had grown into an above-average everyday player, but with the Dodgers’ depth in the outfield and ’s hot start to the season, the Venezuelan veteran’s chances have been even more limited than expected. 

That is likely one of the reasons Peralta is off to a slow start at the plate. But all those struggles were quickly erased once Peralta snuck a two-run walk-off single into right field to lead the Dodgers to a much-needed 2-1 win over the Cubs on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

“It’s a new team. I’m really excited to be part of the Dodgers organization and I felt like I was due to do something to help the team,” Peralta said. “I’m just happy I came through tonight.”

Peralta’s single was the hit that capped off what could be the most important inning in the Dodgers’ young season. But it was Outman and -- the two “kids” on the new-look club -- who got the rally stared against Cubs closer Michael Fulmer.

After flied out to center, Outman got things going with a one-out single into right field. That set it up for Vargas, who is off to a slow start at the plate and has been working through his first extended slump at this level. He was able to line one past third baseman Patrick Wisdom for a double, advancing Outman to third.

“When he hit the double, he looked in the dugout, got everybody fired up a little bit and I think it gave us a little shot of energy,” Outman said of Vargas’ double. “It was the extra boost that we needed to get the big hit, and then David came through.”

Outman and Vargas set up a dream scenario for , who was playing his former team for the first time and was robbed of a homer by former Dodger Cody Bellinger in the second inning. But Heyward struck out swinging for the second out, bringing up Peralta, who pinch-hit for Miguel Rojas.

Peralta just needed one pitch to commit on a Fulmer cutter that caught too much of the plate. Once Vargas slid in safely at home to score the game-winning run, the entire Dodgers team stormed out of the home dugout for a celebration. That party extended into the clubhouse with loud music and a bubble machine.

“It was big,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I mean our guys are grinding, they’re fighting, and just to kind of see how it unfolded. You see Outman start that rally and Vargy with the big hit. You know he was dying for a knock. And you saw his excitement coming around after he got on second base and then obviously, David Peralta, who was dying for a hit, as well, to come up in a big spot and win it for us. It couldn’t have ended any better.”

Strong pitching performances from and bought the Dodgers enough time to ultimately get the winning run across. Grove allowed one run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings, perhaps his strongest start as a big leaguer. Ferguson, on the other hand, relieved Yency Almonte and picked up his teammate, striking out Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki to escape a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning, keeping the Dodgers within one run.

“You know across the board,” Roberts said. “What a good day.”

The large celebration from the Dodgers this early in the season might’ve been a bit unusual compared to previous years. But this is a Dodgers team that is off to a slow start and still looking to find its identity following an emotional offseason that saw several core players depart.

It’s a team that is still looking for a game that allows them to turn momentum in their favor. And on Saturday, that momentum came from three of the newcomers they’re counting on most.

“That’s kind of how we thought about this roster and putting it together,” Roberts said. “So for it to manifest itself tonight, there’s a lot of happy people in there.”