LOS ANGELES -- Down by five runs after the seventh-inning stretch, a lot of teams start thinking about tomorrow. But the Dodgers aren’t like a lot of teams.
The explosive offense that can paper over all kinds of mistakes did just that with a remarkable 9-8 walk-off win against the Mets and closer Edwin Diaz on Wednesday night, overcoming rough outings by their two best young pitchers, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias, who allowed a pair of home runs each.
What does this kind of comeback say about the Dodgers’ offense?
“It just says, really, we’re nasty,” said rookie Alex Verdugo, whose sacrifice fly capped a rally in the bottom of the ninth that began with back-to-back homers from Joc Pederson and Max Muncy, followed by back-to-back doubles from Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger. “The boys can hit.”
They needed to. The Dodgers trailed, 8-3, when they began the comeback with a Turner RBI single in the seventh that drove in Pederson, who had one of eight doubles. Corey Seager, who also had a pair of doubles, homered off Jeurys Familia leading off the bottom of the eighth to cut the lead to 8-5. And then came the winning rally.
One scout after the game said he was dazzled by the Dodgers’ relentless approach against an elite closer.
“They have a plan and the mechanics to back it up,” he said.
So, when does a club like the Dodgers start to believe that a game in which they trail by five is actually winnable?
“You never want to concede, but if J.T. [Turner] doesn’t get that hit [in the bottom of the seventh], I was going to take him out of the game and get him off his feet,” said manager Dave Roberts. “But once we did that, we’re in slam range, I felt we got to take our chances.”
Among other attributes of this first-place team, the Dodgers aren’t daunted by opposing closers. Just this season they have beaten Milwaukee’s Josh Hader twice, San Diego’s Kirby Yates twice, Cincinnati’s Raisel Iglesias and now Diaz.
Bellinger was asked how that was possible?
"I don't know, man. ... We're good," he said.
Buehler allowed two homers to Pete Alonso and five runs in five innings of his duel with Mets starter Noah Syndergaard. Buehler was followed by relievers Pedro Baez and Urias, allowing one and two runs, respectively, as the Mets built their lead. But while the offense chipped away, the Dodgers got scoreless eighth and ninth innings from Yimi Garcia and Scott Alexander, rebounding from Tuesday night’s meltdown to make the comeback possible.
The winning rally was a thing of beauty, moreso because it was so emphatic against Diaz, last year’s American League Reliever of the Year. Pederson worked a nine-pitch at-bat, homering on a 3-2 slider, but his greatest contribution might have come when he reached the dugout after the blast.
“[Diaz] pitched last night and a couple of us faced him,” said Matt Beaty, whose infield single loaded the bases for Verdugo. “Joc came into the dugout and said [Diaz’s] fastball didn't have as much life, so I think everybody was excited to get up there and do something good."
Diaz completely disagreed with Pederson’s scouting report.
"Today was easily the worst day of my career, the worst game of my career, the worst game of the season for me,” said Diaz. “I thought I threw excellent pitches. They were strikes. I was throwing the ball where I wanted to and they just got me. My mentality doesn't change. I was throwing my fastball, I was throwing my slider. I was throwing my fastball with good velocity. But they just kept hitting the ball. They just got me good today."
Muncy homered on a 1-1 fastball down. Turner doubled to left on an 0-1 slider. Bellinger doubled him home on a 1-2 fastball. Seager was walked intentionally, Beaty reached on a squibbler to shortstop and Verdugo said he took a wild swing on the first pitch before realizing that wasn’t him. So with a five-man infield and needing to get the ball in the air, he shortened up to loft a 2-2 slider to left fielder Carlos Gomez, whose throw wasn’t close to getting Bellinger at the plate.
Bellinger said the comeback reminded him of something.
“That was very 2017-ish,” said Bellinger, the Rookie of the Year that season when the Dodgers made commonplace the comeback win, just like this one.