Dodgers' MLB-best 9th slam ends O's streak at 8

Taylor's sixth career grand slam caps five-run rally; Freeman finishes HR shy of third cycle

July 18th, 2023

BALTIMORE -- The 2022 season was a nightmare campaign for . He dealt with injuries and an alarming amount of strikeouts, which led to bad overall numbers at the plate.

In 2023, Taylor has continued to battle to find consistency, but it’s hard to find a role player who has had more timely hits this season. Taylor showed that clutch ability once again, smacking a go-ahead grand slam to cap a five-run sixth inning in the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over the Orioles on Monday night at Camden Yards.

It was Taylor’s second slam of the season and already the sixth of his career, tying Pee Wee Reese, Mike Marshall, Roy Campanella and Shawn Green for the sixth-most grand slams in Dodgers history. Los Angeles now has a Major League-best nine grand slams this season.

“He’s a dependable player,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Offensively, he just keeps coming up with big hits. That’s just kind of his hallmark. I thought actually the first couple were decent at-bats. But when we need him most, he always finds a way to come through.”

After falling into a 4-1 hole through five innings, the Dodgers’ offense mounted a comeback, something they’ve done fairly regularly this season.

The sixth-inning rally started with Freddie Freeman, who finished a homer shy of his third career cycle, leading off with a triple. Will Smith drove in Freeman and Max Muncy drew a walk.

But as the Orioles went to reliever Bryan Baker, it looked like the Dodgers weren’t going to take advantage of a key opportunity. Baker got J.D. Martinez and David Peralta to fly out to center field. Jason Heyward then followed by drawing a key walk to load the bases, setting it up for Taylor.

“Obviously, we’re all going to talk about Chris Taylor’s grand slam. But I’ve got to give a big shoutout to [Heyward’s] at-bat before that,” Freeman said. “The 3-2 slider he took, that was an impressive take. Sets up that whole thing. So big props to both Jason and Chris.”

Baker then proceeded to throw mostly fastballs to Taylor, jumping out to an 0-2 count. The last heater Taylor saw, however, landed in the Orioles’ bullpen in center field.

“Yeah, he was really spotting that fastball up in the zone,” Taylor said. “He threw four or five up there. There was one I missed that I probably should’ve hit that was more middle-middle. But he’s got a good heater.

“I was just trying to stay more line-drive approach on him. He threw me a bunch of them in a row and I was able to get to that one.”

Just a few weeks ago, the Dodgers were in desperate need for help in the right-handed hitter department. With Miguel Vargas getting sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City following a prolonged slump and Jonny DeLuca still developing, the club didn’t have many options.

But acquiring a right-handed hitter doesn’t look like that much of an urgent need following the signing of Jake Marisnick and Taylor returning from the injured list. Since coming back from a right knee injury after the All-Star break, Taylor has now recorded a hit in all three games he’s appeared in.

“Having him back, performing [and] having the utility that he does have, it’s very helpful,” Roberts said.

Roberts and Taylor both said they have to be cautious and still manage the workload so the right knee issues don’t flare up. But getting Taylor back could be another big boost to the Dodgers’ lineup. Especially when they need a clutch hit.

“When I can get to the high fastball, I know I’m in a good place,” Taylor said. “But yeah, right now I feel pretty good. I was able to -- even though I was on the IL -- I was able to swing the whole time and work on some stuff.

“I wasn’t in a terrible place, but just fine tuning. And yeah, I thought that was probably -- you never want to be down -- but it was probably good for me to get a chance to work on something knowing you don’t have to compete that night.”