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This HR makes zero sense, wins game for LA

Enrique Hernandez homers off Josh Hader's 0-2 pitch, a first for both
@kengurnick
April 20, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- Enrique Hernández owns Madison Bumgarner. He homered three times in a pennant-clincher. He homered twice on Opening Day. He’s no fluke. But it was still something of a shock on Friday night when he lined an 0-2 fastball from the intimidating Josh Hader for a three-run homer to

MILWAUKEE -- Enrique Hernández owns Madison Bumgarner. He homered three times in a pennant-clincher. He homered twice on Opening Day.

He’s no fluke. But it was still something of a shock on Friday night when he lined an 0-2 fastball from the intimidating Josh Hader for a three-run homer to give the Dodgers a 5-3 comeback victory over the Brewers and extend their win streak to six.

Hader proves he's human after all

In the Major Leagues, Hernandez had never homered on an 0-2 pitch, and Hader had never allowed one. The Dodgers saw Hader’s act last postseason, saw how manager Craig Counsell utilizes that electric left arm at all different stages of the game. The Dodgers know Hader presents a menacing opposing weapon around which a game plan is drawn.

“You knew with Hader having three days off, they were going to deploy him for multiples [innings] and you don’t know when,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who also knows that 34 pitches should sideline Hader for Saturday night, and maybe Sunday.

Coming into the game, current Dodgers were 2-for-19 against Hader in the regular season, and they didn’t score off him last postseason. So, just what makes Hader, well, Hader?

“Analytics?” Hernandez said. “I don’t know -- extension, spin rate, whatever you want to call it. Drop, angle, bouncy. It gets there quick. He does a really good job of hiding it. He’s got an unorthodox windup, kind of. He’s aggressive, his hair is flowing everywhere. It always seems like his fastball is a tick higher than you think it is. It was all about matching the plane and keeping the swing short.”

According to Statcast, the 95.5-mph pitch had a spin rate of 2327 RPM and a pitch height of 3.04 feet, and Hader had an extension of 7.1 feet. It exited at 106.1 mph and traveled an estimated 399 feet with a launch angle of 20 degrees and a hang time of 4.3 second.

Roberts seemed to think the key pitch was the one that preceded the homer, an inside fastball plate umpire Brian O’Nora called strike two. Hernandez thought it was ball one. He described it with an expletive after the game, but during the game he responded by backing off the plate.

“Actually, it might have worked in our favor,” Roberts said, “because he backed off and gave himself extra room and put a short swing on the next pitch.”

Hader said he wanted the fastball in on Hernandez's hands, but the height was right. He was more upset about walking A.J. Pollock to lead off the eighth and walking pinch-hitter David Freese one out later.

“That’s the thing with me falling behind on those [previous] guys and walking them,” Hader said. “I didn’t set myself up too good to execute. I made mistakes and I paid for it. That’s how the game goes sometimes.”

It was the fifth home run for Hernandez, who was inserted into the game in a seventh-inning double switch. He came into the game having struggled recently (0-for-8) but on fire against lefties (7-for-15). He has 14 RBIs in 20 games.

If Hernandez represented the unexpected, there also was the expected. The Brewers’ second batter of the game was Christian Yelich, and by the time the third batter came up, the Dodgers trailed 2-0 on Yelich’s league-leading 11th home run off Ross Stripling.

The Dodgers cut the deficit in half in the second inning. Cody Bellinger led off by hustling to beat out an infield single. Then, running on a 3-2 pitch, Bellinger scored from first base on Alex Verdugo’s two-out double. Bellinger tied the game at 2-2 in the third inning with a one-out sacrifice fly.

Stripling struck out eight and walked three in 4 2/3 innings.

“MVP and 11 homers for a reason,” Stripling said of Yelich’s homer.

Reliever Pedro Báez, who retired Yelich and Mike Moustakas with a runner on in the eighth, was credited with the win. Joe Kelly allowed a solo homer to Eric Thames in the eighth, and Kenley Jansen earned his seventh save in as many opportunities and third in as many days.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.