'We just didn't quit': LA wins 16-inning epic
SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers and Padres have produced some of the most memorable games of the 2021 season. Wednesday night’s 5-3 Dodgers win at Petco Park topped them all, jam-packing every situation into a 16-inning, nearly six-hour rollercoaster.
It was the longest game played, in terms of innings, since the new extra-innings rule was implemented at the beginning of the 2020 season.
“I’m pretty beat,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But you feel a lot better after a win. Our guys, I gotta give those guys credit … There’s just so much to unpack, but to come away with a win was huge.”
Roberts is right, there is a lot to unpack. The game featured just about everything you could imagine. Walker Buehler and Blake Snell were locked in a classic pitchers' duel, each starter giving their respective team everything it needed through seven innings. But as the innings piled up, those performances were long forgotten with all the wackiness that unfolded on the field over the last nine innings.
It was a game that neither team wanted to lose, but didn’t do enough to win. In the end, the Dodgers were able to withstand an incredibly subpar 5-for-27 performance with runners in scoring position to beat the Padres. It wasn’t until Billy McKinney, the second-to-last position player left on the bench, came through with a huge RBI single in the 15th inning against left-hander Daniel Camarena to finally break the scoreless drought in extras.
“It was pretty frustrating, but no one was more frustrated than the hitters themselves,” Roberts said. “We had pitches that we should’ve handled, but we just didn’t execute when we needed to. Certainly there’s a cost with the arms that we had to use tonight and pick up the pieces for tomorrow. ... But I guess just the solace is you still found a way to win a game.”
But with the Dodgers taking a two-run lead into the bottom half of the 15th, the Padres had an answer. Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a clutch two-run homer off Corey Knebel to tie the game. It was Tatis’ first hit of the night and San Diego’s first hit since the bottom of the fifth. They went nearly four hours without a hit against the Dodgers, yet Los Angeles couldn’t put them away.
“Yeah, this was really weird,” Snell said about the game. “Both teams have stacked lineups, can really hit, and I mean, when did we score more than one run? The 15th inning? What is that? It was just weird.”
Then in the 16th, AJ Pollock finally delivered the dagger, smacking a leadoff two-run homer off Camarena to give the Dodgers a 5-3 lead. In the bottom half, Shane Greene, who was the last pitcher available for the Dodgers, recorded the save. The Dodgers’ bullpen went 9 1/3 innings and allowed one hit. Per STATS, since 2000, the only other bullpen that has tossed that many innings while allowing one or fewer hits was also the Dodgers on April 29, 2007, also against the Padres.
“It’s the next man up,” Roberts said of the bullpen. “They have a good thing going as far as kinship and camaraderie. They pick each other up, they take pride in putting up zeros and closing out games when we have a lead. I can’t say enough about those guys. We needed every one of those outs.”
But as exciting as the game turned out to be, there were some crucial mistakes made by both teams that helped extend the game. The Padres likely kept a dominant Snell in the game one inning too long. They also forgot to double-switch late in the game, forcing pitchers Joe Musgrove, Ryan Weathers and Camarena to take some of the biggest at-bats of the game, given that San Diego ran out of position players.
There were 11 intentional walks issued in the game, eight of them coming from the Dodgers, the most ever by one team in Major League history. They worked perfectly for Los Angeles, as none of them came around to score.
The Dodgers weren’t excused from their own mistakes, either. Trea Turner had a costly throwing error in the second inning and Max Muncy ran into a crucial out at third base in the 12th. Not to mention their inability to record the big hit for most of the night.
Despite the errors, the Dodgers were able to persevere. There have been plenty of games this season that the Dodgers have described as a “team win,” but it was especially true on Wednesday, when the club used a season-high 23 players. It needed every single one in what turned out to be the wildest game of the season.
“You can listen to the excitement, elation after the game. A lot of high-fives, maybe a couple beer showers and guys really just on adrenaline, and just finding a way to win a ballgame,” Roberts said. “I can’t say enough about these guys. We just didn’t quit. I’ve talked about team wins, but I think this certainly epitomizes a team win.”