Most comebacks start when the runner crosses the plate.
On Friday night, the Dodgers’ late game play against the Chicago Cubs began after their pitcher blocked him.
After losing three rounds, the Dodgers went on to a 4-3 win, winning their fifth straight game on Will Smith’s RBI single for 10th seed.
And if it wasn’t for Tyler Anderson’s home plate block about an hour earlier, this might not have happened.
In the sixth inning, Anderson gave the Cubs a double-double to Ian Happ, extending the visitors’ early 1-0 lead to 3-0.
Two batters later, Happ was on third base when Seiya Suzuki hit the helicopter back into the mound. Happ got in touch. But Anderson put the ball clean to get into the rundown.
After a few shots into the pickle brought Smith to the third base line, Anderson found himself covering home plate. When Anderson received a throw from third baseman Justin Turner, Happ was still a few steps away from him and appeared almost out of the game.
However, Happ dropped his shoulder and rammed the bulldozer into Anderson’s stomach. The pitcher held on to the mark. He then angrily pushed Happ in the back as the Cubs runner fell to the ground.
Before that, the Cubs were in control.
But after a home struggle between Happ and Anderson, who gave up three tries in a seven-inning start, the Dodgers finally came to life.
They scored one run in the sixth, after Freddie Freeman doubled and hit a ball dropped by Suzuki from the right. They tied within one in the seventh thanks to Jake Lamb’s first home run as a Dodger.
Late in the ninth round, the Dodgers finally tied the game at 3–3 thanks to a bases-laden sacrificial fly Mookie Betts who almost left the stadium.
In the bottom of the 10th place, Smith left after lining up a 2-and-2 fastball from Cubs reliever Rowan Wick to left for an RBI single.
It was the Dodgers’ second victory at this home stand, during which they won eight of nine games.
Bryusdal Graterol avoided injury
Brousdard Graterol, who left Thursday’s game early with a cramp in his side, was feeling better on Friday and will not need to be put on the injured list, according to manager Dave Roberts.
“[In] catch the game, he let it rip,” Roberts said. “He’s in a good place.”
Roberts said the team gave Graterol the day off on Friday, but more because of recent use than any injuries.
“In terms of physical condition, he’s great,” said Roberts.
That was good news for the Dodgers, who recently gave Gratherol a more prominent role after several other bullpen injuries.
While Graterol has a 3.52 ERA on the season, he’s been superb lately, giving up just two runs in his last 14 innings.
Craig Kimbrel Seeks Consistency
Craig Kimbrel is still closer to the Dodgers.
But questions about his inconsistent form over the past two months continued to escalate on Friday, the day after he failed to complete the ninth inning of a save opportunity due to high innings.
“Inconsistencies, given who he is, I think we’re all surprised by that,” Roberts said.
Kimbrel’s exit on Thursday boosted his seasonal ERA to 4.82 and his walks plus hits per innings (WHIP) to 1.54, the worst of any Dodgers pitcher with at least 10 games this season.
Having started his season with eight clean sheets in his first nine games, the right-hander has now given up at least one try in 11 of his last 21.
Roberts said Kimbrel’s biggest problem this year has been bad play.
A two-pitch pitcher throughout his career, Kimbrel has increasingly relied on his curve ball rather than his 90+ mph fastball in recent seasons. Last year, he threw curve balls more than 40% of the time, which is a personal best.
This season, however, its use and effectiveness on the field have plummeted. Now he only quits 33.5% of the time. There are also fewer exits and sighs.
“The shape of the ball is different on almost every throw, and there are a lot of non-competitive misses with the ball breaking,” Roberts said. “This will boost your filing score and obviously lead you to some scores that you don’t want to participate in. So I think we need to work together to use and find some consistency.”