Wild Horse stampedes home and saves day

June 23rd, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- A simple hit transformed into pandemonium as Yasiel Puig, known as the Wild Horse for reasons which are now even more obvious, took home on a three-base error to let the Dodgers walk off with a 4-3 win over the Nationals.

With Howie Kendrick on first and facing Nationals interim closer Shawn Kelley down a run, Puig hit a Statcast-measured 108 mph rocket into center field that should have at least put the winning run on first for the Dodgers.

The ball had slowed to a roll in the outfield and appeared to be a simple play for center fielder Michael Taylor. Yet the ball bounced past Taylor's glove and traveled all the way to the center-field wall, with the anguish clear on Taylor's face. He knew instantly what was about to happen, unlike the Dodgers manager.

"I actually took my eye off the ball as it went into center field, so I didn't see what happened," Dave Roberts said. "Then I hear the crowd yelling and the dugout going crazy, so I turn to Yasiel and he's scooting around the bases."

Puig, well known for both his speed and recklessness on the basepaths, rounded the bases at a speed seen only once this season. Per Statcast™, Puig's home-to-home time came in at 15.20 seconds, tying him with Jason Kipnis yesterday for the fastest home-to-home time of 2016.

Dodgers third-base coach Chris Woodward actually put up the stop sign as Puig rounded third, seeing a throw from Jayson Werth at the warning track heading towards the infield. However, Daniel Murphy double-clutched the relay and allowed Puig, who completely ignored the sign, to score.

"I had to slide. I couldn't do more with my hamstring, so I had to throw myself like I was at the beach," Puig said through an interpretor.

Puig has dealt with hamstring injuries the past three seasons and is now just two games removed from a DL stint brought on by another strain. Puig said after the game that his legs made the decision for him to come home, overruling Woodward.

The first teammates to greet Puig at home were Kendrick and A.J. Ellis, who was on deck. A swarm of white and blue uniforms followed.

"We were all talking about it in the food room just right now, just trying to think about any ending like that we've seen," Ellis said. "To see something like that and to see Yasiel circle the bases, it's really exciting, especially for me being right there at home plate as he crossed. Just a really exciting moment to hear the crowd come alive as he circled."

All in all, it was a night in which Puig lived up to his self-selected status as a standard bearer for Wednesday opponent Bryce Harper's "Make Baseball Fun Again" movement. Puig took interviews after the game wearing a hat with the slogan, though he might soon have some new headwear in the near future.

"The next hat is going to say 'My hamstring is better again.'"