In the midst of the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants, a lot happened. The game went 14 innings and saw both teams down to their last reliever without any position players.
The highly criticized Dodgers bullpen has been through a roller coaster of a season, with another example of it on display Monday. Starter Brett Anderson was pulled after the fifth inning, leaving the bullpen to carry the load for what turned out to be nine more innings. Pitchers Pedro Baez and Luis Avilan threw scoreless innings before Juan Nicasio allowed the game-tying run. After Kenley Jansen threw a scoreless ninth inning, two pitchers ended up carrying the load for five more innings.
Recently acquired reliever Jim Johnson allowed only one hit over two innings, before ultimately leaving the game in Chris Hatcher’s hands. Before Hatcher’s return from the disabled list, he had not pitched well this season. After the game, the 30-year-old was asked about his rough experience this season, but he thought more so about the big picture than himself. “I think it is better for the team than it is me,” Hatcher stated. “Being able to keep us in the ball game and to keep it where it is. That’s a big win. That’s probably our biggest win of the season.”
The right-hander ended up with the victory, but not before he put a sense of fear into the heart of Dodger fans everywhere. In the 12th inning, hitters Matt Duffy and Brandon Belt, in consecutive at-bats, hit pitches to the warning tracks. Luckily for Hatcher, the hitters did not get enough of the ball, allowing Hatcher to escape unharmed.
Also, in the 14th inning, Hatcher allowed two runners on with two outs, facing the newest Giant Marlon Byrd. On a foul tip, Byrd struck out and Hatcher responded with a fist pump and yelled his way off of the mound. During the postgame interview, Hatcher was asked about his emotions running wild and stated that it was in the heat of the moment. “I try not to be a real emotional guy on the field,” he said. “In that situation, that out was huge. I guess the emotion just finally came out.”
Throughout all the bullpen has been through, the core group understands what is being asked of them and how they need to respond in order to prove the critics wrong. “We are a group down there,” Hatcher remarked. “We got the seven guys and we ride together. If one of us is having a bad day we try to pick each other up. If we are all having a good day, we are going to be there for each other.”
On the season, Hatcher is 2-5, with a 4.73 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 80 ERA+, and 1.38 WHIP. In his last three outings, the North Carolina native has thrown 4.2 innings, allowing just three hits, three walks, and zero earned runs. During that span, he has struck out seven batters and has lowered his ERA from 5.73 to 4.73.