Bundy gambles on tricky play to eke out win
Dodgers third-base coach urged Hernandez to rattle rookie
LOS ANGELES -- The conventional methods, including a team meeting, didn't work. The Dodgers offense Thursday night remained at a standstill.
So the situation called for something different, creative and totally unexpected, and third-base coach Lorenzo Bundy had an idea.
He reached back into his 35 years of Minor League and Winter Ball experience and the Dodgers pulled out a bottom-of-the-ninth balk-off win, 1-0, to avoid being swept in this two-state, four-game series against Texas.
With two outs, rookie pinch-runner Kiké Hernandez on third base and a 1-2 count to Jimmy Rollins, Bundy told Hernandez to "just fake it" as soon as Rangers pitcher Keone Kela came to the set position.
Hernandez, game enough to wear a banana suit if it'll trigger a rally, jumped at the chance for a mock steal of home and Kela flinched.
"He fell for it," said Hernandez. "I used to do them all the time in high school."
Plate umpire Marvin Hudson and second-base umpire Greg Gibson called the balk and the Dodgers scored the winning run without a pitch being thrown.
"That's the way we roll in the Minor Leagues sometimes," said Bundy. "I felt after the young pitcher got into trouble [walks to Yasmani Grandal and Andre Ethier], then he gets the double play [on Alberto Callaspo after he failed to bunt] and, in a tight situation, a lot of times they get the two outs and kind of relax. I figured with two strikes on Jimmy, I'd just take a shot."
For a team having as much trouble scoring as the Dodgers, why not? They had already wasted another phenomenal start from Zack Greinke, his seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball leaving him winless since May 5, eight starts ago. He struck out eight and lowered his ERA to 1.81.
Greinke admired the creativity of the winning play.
"Even me, in some situations, it might get me," he said. "Pitching as much as I have, there's probably less of a chance, but the younger someone is, the higher the chance. I'm not shocked to see it work."
J.P. Howell followed Greinke to the mound and struck out the side in the eighth. Kenley Jansen struck out two in a perfect ninth leading up to the winning "rally."
But while giving credit to Bundy, an assist for this win also should go to video coordinator John Pratt, who encouraged manager Don Mattingly to challenge a safe call at third base on Elvis Andrus, who hustled from first to third on Robinson Chirinos' two-out single in the seventh inning ahead of Ethier's throw from left field.
Mattingly won the challenge, the call was overturned and the inning was over when the replay showed that Andrus' right hand came off the bag while third baseman Callaspo kept the glove on his lower back.
A fake steal and an overruling by replay and the Dodgers avoided their first four-game losing streak of the season.
"Whatever it takes," said Mattingly. "We're trying to find some way to win the game. It doesn't matter how you get it."