LOS ANGELES -- At just about every turn, everyone in the Dodgers’ organization raves about the continuity and vibe around this year’s club. It might not be the most talented they’ve had, at least on paper, but it appears to be one of the most tight-knit groups.
Those vibes have certainly translated onto the field and shined when the Dodgers have needed it most. Their latest act came on Tuesday, as they used a four-run ninth inning to complete an improbable 8-7 comeback win over the Blue Jays in 10 innings at Dodger Stadium.
“It’s just the compete, the fight of our guys,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I’ve said it many times over, it was a team win. And you can tell those guys really wanted that game, and to our credit, we didn’t quit.”
For eight innings, it looked like the Dodgers were headed to a third consecutive loss for the first time in over a month. While Julio Urías kept them in the game by allowing three runs over six innings, the offense wasn’t taking advantage of key opportunities for a second straight night.
In the ninth, the game looked to have gotten out of hand once Danny Jansen hit a bases-clearing double off Justin Bruihl to give the Blue Jays a 7-3 lead. A lot of people in the stands started heading for the exits.
But after three singles in a row to open the ninth, the Dodgers started to make things interesting. It became apparent that momentum was starting to shift. A few batters after Mookie Betts’ RBI single to cut the deficit to three runs, all turned into madness in Chavez Ravine.
With two on and one out, Will Smith hit a bouncer to third base. Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman is one of the best in the Majors at the position, and it appeared the game was going to end on a double play, quashing the Dodgers’ dreams of a comeback. But the last hop came up on Chapman, allowing Smith to reach safely and loading the bases.
Max Muncy then followed Smith with a walk that led to another run, bringing L.A. to within two runs. After J.D. Martinez struck out for the second out, it was up to Chris Taylor, who has a knack for coming up with timely hits. Taylor swung at the first pitch he saw, sending a grounder to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first base that ricocheted off his glove.
The deflection allowed Betts to score, and Smith thought the ball might’ve gotten into the outfield, so he rounded third and took off for home, despite third-base coach Dino Ebel throwing up a stop sign. Smith easily beat the throw home to plate the tying run.
“You’re thinking ‘score,’ right when he hits it,” Smith said. “Two outs, you’re thinking, ‘Go home.’ Right before I hit third base, I see Dino waving me and I’m like, ‘All right, I gotta get there.’ I hit third base, and my head’s just down. I didn’t see it.”
The Dodgers’ magic carried over into extra innings. After a Bo Bichette single to right field, Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier decided to test Betts’ arm and broke for home. Betts’ throw was a little wide, but Smith was able to pick it close to the first-base line and jump all the way across the plate to apply a perfect tag to keep Kiermaier from scoring.
“I thought he was gonna be dead to rights,” Roberts said. “But then I saw where Will had to go, and he just made a heck of a play. I can’t speak enough to that play. It’s a bang-bang play that he executed.”
Following Smith’s heroics behind the plate, it was James Outman that delivered the finishing touches to one of the Dodgers’ best wins of the season. Outman reached base all five times on Tuesday, including his walk-off double in the 10th off former Dodger Mitch White.
“James, his at-bats all night long were great,” Roberts said. “Young player, taking walks, and then when he gets an opportunity to put the ball in the strike zone, to put good swings on it, he’s growing up pretty quickly. The last few weeks have been really telling.”
As a team, the last few weeks have also been telling for the Dodgers. It might look a little different, but they’re, once again, one of the best teams in the Majors.