The Los Angeles Dodgers lineup on Saturday was absent of notable names and composed of another position player starting out of place.
With Adrian Gonzalez scheduled for a day off and the Chicago Cubs sending left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to the mound, manager Don Mattingly placed Scott Van Slyke and inserted Justin Turner at first base.
It was Turner’s 18th career start at first base and first with the Dodgers. Yasiel Puig, who was nursing a sore hamstring, also didn’t start. Gonzalez and Puig both made pinch-hit appearances in the Dodgers extra-innings win but neither made much of an impact.
Puig singled and was picked-off first base while Gonzalez struck out. With the two big threats rendered ineffective, Hanley Ramirez delivered for the Dodgers by hitting his first career walk-off home run.
Following the win, Mattingly discussed the overall depth of the team, via Andy Kamenetzky on ESPN LA:
“I think we make a little too much of that,” Mattingly said. “A couple guys out of the lineup. Maybe in years past, it would have been different. [But] we’ve got plenty of guys here that have come through in big moments. We didn’t have Adrian. We didn’t have Yasiel. But we do have Matt [Kemp]. We do have Hanley [Ramirez]. We still have Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. There’s a number of guys that have come through for you, not counting even the [Scott] Van Slykes and J.T.’s [Justin Turners] and the Dee Gordons.
Even Ramirez was quick to dismiss the notion that one player is larger than the group:
It’s about the team,” Ramirez said. “It’s not one guy.”
While Ramirez hit the home run, Dee Gordon kept the 12th inning alive with his two-out single and Justin Turner laid off pitches to work a full count before ultimately drawing a walk.
The Dodgers used all their position players but one — A.J. Ellis — who is battling a sore knee, but may find himself back behind the plate Sunday given the load Drew Butera shouldered in the four-hour and 39-minute game.
Had the game wandered past the 12th inning, Chris Perez was set to take the mound for the Dodgers, which would have left newly-recalled Paco Rodriguez as the remaining relief pitcher available.
It took a team effort Saturday and it will likely take another on Sunday. And for the remainder of the season. The Dodgers largely rode Ramirez and Puig into the 2013 postseason, then struggled mightily when Ramirez was lost in Game 1 of the NLCS.
The Dodgers haven’t had the benefit of being carried for prolonged stretches by one or two players which in the end, may prove more beneficial.
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