History made when Enrique allows walk-off HR
PHILADELPHIA -- If you awoke Tuesday night and thought you heard that utilityman Enrique Hernandez was pitching for the Dodgers, it wasn't a dream. It was a nightmare.
Trevor Plouffe crushed a three-run homer with one out in the bottom of the 16th inning off Hernandez for a 7-4 walk-off win by the Phillies in a marathon battle of first-place teams that trimmed the Dodgers' division lead to a half-game over Arizona.
"Has anybody else gone 0-for-7 and given up a walk-off home run?" asked Hernandez, who had always hoped to add pitching to his laundry list of assignments, but never imagined it would turn out like this.
Among other unfortunate milestones in a game that took five hours and 55 minutes, Hernandez is the first player to play the infield, outfield and allow three runs in the same game since Babe Ruth in 1921. He's also the first full-time position player to allow a walk-off home run because, of course, position players aren't supposed to be pitching with the game on the line.
But after already playing second base and right field in earlier innings, the mound is where Hernandez was in a game that saw switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal homer from both sides of the plate. Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda let a 4-1 lead get away, before the Dodgers got a staggering eight scoreless innings from seven actual relievers, with the club inducing 17 strikeouts from the Phillies.
Only, Hernandez the pitcher had Hernandez the hitter on his mind when his big chance came.
"I was thinking about my AB [popped out in the 16th] on the mound," he said. "Thinking we had another game in 11 hours and how I was 0-for-7. And this was my time to redeem myself and I didn't."
Hernandez said he was 12 years old the last time he was "officially" a pitcher. He added that in his junior year of high school, he pitched to two hitters "to mess around." He was the first Dodgers position player to pitch since Andrew Butera in 2014.
Hernandez said he was prepared to air it out, but teammates warned him not to throw hard and risk an injury to him or an opposing batter.
"I tried to throw strikes, tried to throw as slow as I could and couldn't throw strikes, so I tried to put something on it," he said of the pitch Plouffe hit out. "It is what it is. You've got to do what you can for the team. Do you want to waste every pitcher you have or do you want to lose the game? I wanted to try to give my team seven innings and it didn't happen."
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had Rich Hill sprint from the dugout to the bullpen and begin warming up in the top of the 16th inning for the save if the Dodgers had taken a lead.
When that didn't happen, he turned to Hernandez, his super utilityman, to make his professional pitching debut with the game on the line. Long reliever Caleb Ferguson, the only reliever that didn't pitch, had thrown three innings on Sunday and Roberts said he wasn't going to put the rookie in harm's way on short rest.
"That was a tough one," said Roberts. "The guys in the bullpen did a great job all night long. We used everybody [besides Ferguson]. Rich [Hill] threw a bullpen yesterday, 40 pitches. So he's there for a save situation, because if we don't score, to what end is he out there for? Don't want to compromise the starters going forward, they're getting an extra day and they need that. Unfortunately, we ran out of pitching in the 16th. It was just a tough situation."
Hernandez and Yasiel Puig have the strongest throwing arms on the team among position players, but Hernandez dialed it back, heeding his teammates' warnings. After a running catch by right fielder Cody Bellinger, Hernandez issued a pair of one-out walks throwing mostly breaking balls. He cranked it up to 85 mph in the at-bat to Plouffe, with the homer coming on an 84-mph fastball.
"When [Hernandez] came in, we knew we had a good chance to score there," said Plouffe. "You really have to tell yourself to slow down. They're throwing below the hitting speed usually, so I just tried to have a good at-bat."
Roberts said Pedro Baez will be activated from his rehabilitation assignment for Wednesday's day game instead of on Thursday. The Dodgers will also make another roster move to activate starter Walker Buehler.
Maeda served up home runs to Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro to negate the home runs by Grandal, who also singled.
Grandal's second homer in the sixth was the fourth Dodgers run and the Phillies tied the game in the seventh. The bullpens kept the score at 4-4 until the 16th. Grandal, who homered for the second consecutive game, has 16 on the season along with a seven-game hitting streak, where he is 11-for-23. In July, he is 20-for-49 (.408) with five homers and 11 RBIs, re-establishing himself as the primary catcher after losing the job to Austin Barnes late last season. Grandal is eligible for free agency after this season.
Maeda retired the first 11 batters he faced, but lost his shutout with one out in the fifth on the Williams home run and lost the lead in a three-run seventh inning on an RBI double by Maikel Franco and a two-out, two-run blast from Alfaro that was tracked by Statcast™ at 446 feet.
UMPIRING A MAN DOWN
Plate umpire Tom Hallion left the game before the bottom of the 10th inning after taking a Joc Pederson foul ball off the chin of his facemask with two out in the top of the 10th. Second-base umpire Phil Cuzzi took over behind the plate, with the game delayed while he changed gear, before it resumed with three umpires. Hallion was similarly knocked from a 2015 game by a Nolan Arenado foul ball to the facemask.
Another standing ovation for Chase Utley, this time just for presenting the lineup card at home plate before the game. What was left of the crowd in the 12th inning gave Utley another ovation when he came to bat as a pinch-hitter. Utley singled, and promptly got more cheers. Utley is 13-for-28 as a pinch-hitter this year.
HE SAID IT
"I was ready to go." -- Hill, on whether he had enough warm-up tosses to pitch
Buehler returns from his option to the Minor Leagues as the starter in Wednesday's series finale against the Phillies and Jacob Arrieta at Citizens Bank Park at 9:35 a.m. PT. This will be Buehler's first start since July 13 for the Dodgers and second start since June 8. He was sent to Triple-A on July 14, but didn't pitch for Oklahoma City.