Lux redeems early error with first walk-off hit

No. 23 prospect Grove's MLB debut nearly spoiled by four unearned runs

May 16th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Down to their final out of the game, the Dodgers were searching for any way to fend off a series sweep at the hands of the Phillies.

After Max Muncy and Justin Turner recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the ninth, it was left to Gavin Lux to finish off the rally that Cody Bellinger started with a triple and thwart a four-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies for the first time since August 2008.

Lux drilled a double to the right-field corner that scored Bellinger and Chris Taylor to topple the Phillies 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. The late-inning heroics represented the first walk-off RBI of Lux’s career, and it couldn’t have happened on a better day.

"I hit second base and I didn't realize that I kind of forgot that it was the bottom of the ninth, honestly,” Lux said of his reaction when he saw his teammates rushing to him. “I think that might be my first walk-off hit in my whole professional career, so it's a really good feeling.”

As the line drive trickled into the right-field corner, the memory of Lux’s costly error in the second inning, which led to four unearned runs, faded.

“A lot of resiliency,” manager Dave Roberts said of the Dodgers’ ability to come from behind. “I think today, the pitching, you’ve got to give the guys a lot of credit because we didn't pitch well early in the series. We didn't give up any earned runs today. Those guys out of the bullpen did a nice job making pitches."

The four-run deficit that hung over the Dodgers nearly spoiled No. 23 prospect Michael Grove’s Major League debut, but the postgame celebrations in the Dodgers clubhouse told a different story.

Despite just 139 innings in the Minor Leagues to his name, and none above Double-A, the Dodgers called upon Grove to steer the ship away from a potential five-game losing streak. Though he didn’t factor in the win, Grove set the tone for the ballclub.

The right-hander posted 3 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and three walks. His fastball accounted for more than half of his pitches, which topped out at 96.7 mph.

Grove settled in quickly, despite the jitters that were coursing through him. In his first inning, he sat down the Phillies in order while recording his first career strikeout.

The second inning was shaping up to be scoreless, as well. However, Bryson Stott’s ground ball sneaked underneath Lux’s glove at second base and opened the scoring.

The defensive miscue brought five more batters to the plate, pushing Grove to 35 pitches in the frame. It also resulted in four unearned runs crossing the plate, as Philadelphia batted around.

"Grove was rolling and it's his debut and I want to make the play for him there,” Lux said. “Obviously you feel bad and you just try to make up for it after that and try to make every play for him.”

The road to the Major League level was bumpy for the newest member of the Dodgers pitching rotation, while some unexpected detours prolonged the journey to the mound at Dodger Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

After Grove inked his deal with the Dodgers following the 2018 Draft, the right-hander was in a strict pitching program as he rehabbed from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in his final year at West Virginia University.

Grove’s progress to reach Double-A Tulsa was a steady climb after he posted an ERA of 6.10 in his first year in the Dodgers’ farm system. After not playing professionally in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Grove set new sights for 2021.

His 1-4 record and 7.86 ERA in 21 appearances in Double-A Tulsa last season suggested there was still room to grow. The right-hander made the necessary adjustments during the offseason, leading to his Major League debut.

"It's honestly crazy when I think about it, just where I was in May of last year to then be in this clubhouse now,” Grove said. “I went through a lot, but I came out on the other side.”