“Well,” I thought to myself on Monday night, “This isn’t good.” César Hernandez had just launched a 3-run shot in the 2nd inning, extending the Phillies lead over the Dodgers, 4-0. If this was last year, a 4-0 deficit would be nothing. If anything, it meant that the fans were being set up for a riveting comeback by the Boys in Blue. It’s not 2017, though, and not only were the Dodgers facing a daunting deficit, they were in the throws of a bullpen game, and this bullpen is not what it once was.
Or, so we thought.
Many, including myself, thought the game was over after the second inning. It’s not that I didn’t have faith in the Dodgers, but because they have yet to mount a comeback like this so far, and the Phillies have been pretty good. Boy, were we in for a happy surprise.
The game began with Brock Stewart making his second consecutive start, and he looked shaky from the beginning. I’ve always been a fan of Stewart, I think he’s great for this team, but if Monday proved anything, it’s that he’s better as a reliever. He’s a huge advantage for the Dodgers out of the pen and will be able to get back there once the rotation is healthy.
An early offensive outburst from the Phillies wasn’t really a surprise. Newly signed Carlos Santana leads the team with nine home runs. As a team, they’ve been consistent all season. It looked like the Phillies had this game won.
The Dodgers, however, had other plans.
The 7th inning came and went quickly, with Bellinger, Taylor, and Utley all striking out.
Then the endless 8th commenced. Yasiel Puig began the inning with a single, and with that, Doc Roberts sent Matt Kemp up to the plate. It would prove to be a rewarding move, as he would hit a double into the gap and score a speeding Puig. 4-3.
Matt Kemp advanced to 3rd on a fielding error, and Max Muncy drove him in with a soft grounder that, normally, would result in an out at first. Kemp would have scored regardless, but Muncy’s speed proved to be a valuable asset as the inning raged on. 4-4.
With two on and 1 out, Yasmani Grandal hit a single to left, scoring Hernandez. 5-4.
That’s where the comeback ended, but it was all the Dodgers would need. Kenley Jansen came in and did what he does best; he shut it down.
So, how did this comeback come to be?
Simple. For possibly the first time all season, the Dodgers bullpen and the Dodgers offense were on the same page. This was the kind of thing we’re used to seeing, but with a different kind of team. Muncy and Kemp had possibly the biggest impact on the offense on Monday, and neither of them was predicted to be there at all. The pitching showed up, and Yimi Garcia may just be this year’s Brandon Morrow.
This was the comeback the Dodgers needed to jumpstart their season, and it was against a team they have had comeback wins against before (the back-to-back-to-back homer game for one.)
Whether or not the Dodgers will keep up this amazing run has yet to be determined.
What we do know is that they are capable of overcoming early deficits. And in a game where you, statistically, lose 1/3 of your games and win 1/3 of your games, the Dodgers need all the help they can get in making sure they win as many of that final third as possible.
This team is getting better and better at finding their unique advantages and making good use of them.
Who knows, Monday night could lead to something bigger, so let’s wait and see where it goes.