Dodgers walk, walk, walk, walk, walk it off

L.A. draws five straight free passes for fourth straight home walk-off win

July 3rd, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- In the walk-off to end all walk-offs, the Dodgers with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning walked off against the D-backs Tuesday night, 5-4, with a walk by as the last of five consecutive walks.

Bellinger took the final ball four from T.J. McFarland, who was rushed into the worst jam imaginable after Arizona closer Greg Holland was one strike away from a save and just, well, lost it.

With a one-run lead, Holland retired the first two batters, then lost to a walk after getting ahead of him, 0-2. Holland then walked on a 3-2 pitch, on a 3-1 pitch and on four pitches to tie the game.

The Arizona bullpen meltdown was a 28-pitch cataclysm -- without a ball put in play -- and even made Dodgers starting pitcher Ross Stripling feel sympathetic for his losing opponents.

“As a pitcher, you feel for him,” said Stripling. “You don’t want anybody to go through that. You want us to take it from them and not him basically hand it to us on a silver platter. He’s been one of the better closers in the game for a long time and I’m sure he’ll be able to get over it and get back at it.”

It’s the first time in Dodgers history they’ve had walk-off wins in four consecutive home games. Beaty, Verdugo and Will Smith each homered to win games against the Rockies in the last three games of the previous homestand, June 21-23. The only other National League team with four straight walk-offs was the 1991 Phillies. The 2004 Oakland A’s had five. According to STATS, the Dodgers are the only MLB team in the last 45 years to end a game with five consecutive walks.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, in the live-ball era (since 1920), no game had ended on five consecutive walks, with no outs in between that streak of five straight walks. The last time a team won a game on four straight walks was also the Dodgers on July 8, 2017; it was also Bellinger who was at the plate and drew the walk for the game-winning run to come in.

So, how much of this remarkable outcome was a giveaway by opposing pitchers, and how much was disciplined at-bats by discerning Dodgers batters?

“That was impressive on our part to lay off good pitches,” said Bellinger, who was nearly hit by pitches twice. “C.T., Russ -- they laid off some very good pitches to lead to that.”

Manager Dave Roberts said Taylor’s at-bat -- two innings after tripling as a pinch-hitter -- was even more impressive considering he was sick and forced to stay in the game because Justin Turner’s sore elbow left the bench shorthanded.

“We put on a clinic today,” said Roberts. “Just for C.T. to grind that at-bat, for our guys to see pitches, really just not blinking and waiting for their pitch and keeping the line moving. As good a display of that as we’ve seen.”

Martin was pinch-hitting, and he offered a catcher’s perspective for a hitter watching a pitcher implode.

“We just have the mentality of winning one pitch at a time,” said Martin. “He was trying to make pitches and he was just missing. Everybody has bad days and today was a bad day for Holland.”

Martin said the support of yet another sellout crowd is always welcome, but he also conceded the noise level adds to the challenge of hunting pitches and not chasing them.

“It’s hard to stay patient when there’s that buildup and you can feel that tension and everybody wants to get that game-winning hit, but you have to hunt what you can do damage with,” he said. “When the crowd gets going and you can feel the energy build up, everything gets magnified. The crowd, you can feel them, they want you to swing, they want you to make something happen, but you’ve got to stay within yourself.”

Beaty walked for only the second time in 95 plate appearances. Roberts said even as the snowball was gaining momentum, he didn’t order his hitters to look for the walk.

“Our guys preach to be aggressive to your zone, and if it’s not there, you’ve got to be able to take a pitch,” said Roberts. “That’s what we did tonight. To try to look passive and look for a walk and if it’s in the zone, that’s the opposite of what we want. We were textbook tonight.”