As the Dodgers unwind at the All-Star Break, the team not only stands atop the baseball world with the best record in either league, but is on pace to set the franchise mark for wins in a season. If they can do that, and finally win the World Series, they would stand to be the best team in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles history.
Thus, it’s no surprise they’ve already made plenty of franchise and MLB history in just half a season. Here are some of the top moments of the first of the season for these 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers.
Dodgers Nation, what are your favorite moments of the first half?
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) July 10, 2019
Will Smith’s First Major League Homer is a Special One
It’s no secret the Dodgers have been weak at catcher recently, making the anticipation for their cadre of prospects at the position all the greater. Will Smith showed just why the future is bright with his first major league home run on June 1 against the Phillies. Even better: it was a walk-off blast.
Will Smith’s first Major League home run is a walk-off. Awesome. pic.twitter.com/E5KNCX9w1m
— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) June 2, 2019
Joc Blasts the First Walk-Off of the Season
Before mesmerizing the baseball world with his valiant Home Run Derby display this week, Joc gave the Dodgers a satisfying first walk-off win of the year on April 16. In the series that marked Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp’s return to Dodger Stadium, the Cincinnati Reds looked like they were going to continue their bizarre mastery over the Dodgers when Kemp laced a go-ahead RBI single off Kenley Jansen in the top of the ninth. Luckily. Joc had other plans, launching a two-run shot into orbit for a 4-3 walk-off win.
JOC JAMS! ?
Joc Pederson smashes a walk-off HR to give the Dodgers the win! pic.twitter.com/bYNoOLPbdD
— ESPN (@espn) April 16, 2019
Hyun-Jin Ryu Shuts Out Atlanta
While Bellinger steals the spotlight on offense, Hyun-Jin Ryu is making a strong case for NL Cy Young with his 2019 season. He has been dominant in every regard, and one great display came in early May when he pitched a complete-game shutout of the Braves at home. Especially after his long history of injuries, seeing him toss a gem of that caliber is poignant.
Thanks to Twitter follower @puptartss for submitting this one!
Threepeat for JT
Bangs 3 dongs. Complete shutout
game for Hyun Jin Ryu#HyunJinRyu#Justinturner #shutout #completegame #threepeat #Dodgerstadium #Dodgershaiku #Baseballhaiku #Mydayinla #baseball pic.twitter.com/bWjoq013Ll
— Dodgershaiku (@Dodgershaiku1) May 8, 2019
Three Rookies Walk Off in Ecstatic Fashion
After Walker Buehler’s incredible 16-K start (detailed below), Matt Beaty sealed it with a walk-off two run homer against the Rockies on June 21. The heroics of two young stars in one game showed why the Dodgers’ investment in their youth is paying off now and for the future. And they were just the beginning of what was to come that weekend.
What a night for the Dodgers
? 16 K's for Walker Buehler
? Walk-off 2R HR for Matt Beaty (called up today)
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) June 22, 2019
Almost as important as Cody Bellinger’s incredible season has been the consistency of rookie Alex Verdugo. After being floated around as trade bait all offseason, the team’s decision to stick with him has paid dividends. He’s been a solid everyday bat, and it was only a matter of time before he had a walk-off home run. He got it in the second game on June 22 against the Rockies, the second by a rookie in that series.
WALK IT OFF, ALEX VERDUGO. pic.twitter.com/KtQPuUouAN
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) June 23, 2019
It wouldn’t be the last — that would be the one corked by Will Smith in the series finale. His towering three-run blast with two outs made the Dodgers the first team in MLB history to have three consecutive walk-off HRs by rookies. If they do end up winning the World Series this October, this series will be remembered as the one where their championship identity was forged.
— Sports Talk (@SportsTalkNews_) June 23, 2019
Pedro Baez Enters With Bases Loaded and No Outs, Escapes Jam
Pedro Baez’s ascension from bullpen pariah to fan favorite has been one of the great under-the-radar storyline of Dodger baseball the past couple of years. In a season where the bullpen has been universally despised, he still has had some terrific moments. On April 27 against the Pirates at home, he entered in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. He then retired three straight to escape with no damage done, ending it by striking out slugger Josh Bell. The Dodgers held on to win 3-1 as a result.
Hats off to Twitter follower @Angelga44510926 for this suggestion!
PEDRO BAEZ STRIKES HIM OUT! Pedro gets 3 straight outs with the bases loaded. WOW!!!! pic.twitter.com/YpQNJMblXk
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) April 28, 2019
Bats Come Back From the Dead to Walk Off Diaz and the Mets
May looked like it was going to end with a trap series against the hapless Mets, as Walker Buehler and the bullpen were torched for eight runs. Leading 8-4 and with closer Edwin Diaz on the mound, the game looked over in the ninth. But Joc Pederson and Max Muncy responded with back-to-back solo shots, before Cody Bellinger tied it with an RBI double. It all ended with a walk-off sacrifice fly from Alex Verdugo, making for one of the most unexpected but satisfying wins of the season.
“Floating On Air”
5/29/19-Alex Verdugo with the walk-off against the Mets at Dodger Stadium.
?: @jon.soohoo @dodgers @dugie11 #dodgers @mets @nikonusa #sharesocal #thesoohoododgersscrapbook https://t.co/EBlWyrQ6kr pic.twitter.com/BKZxm6zxlb
— Jon SooHoo (@JonSooHooPics) May 30, 2019
Bellinger Robs Yelich and Torches Hader in Milwaukee
The heart and soul of the 2019 Dodgers has been Cody Bellinger’s breakout year, one that gives him a chance to usurp Christian Yelich as National League Most Valuable Player. His best showcase for it was fittingly in Milwaukee on April 21, where he not only robbed Yelich of a home run, but blasted the go-ahead shot off relief ace Josh Hader.
As the wise philosopher Ric Flair said, “In order to be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.” Cody Bellinger beat both of the men in one game.
? Rob Christian Yelich of a HR
? Hit the go-ahead HR
Cody Bellinger got it done on both sides today ? pic.twitter.com/cUu9efar2Q
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 21, 2019
Offense Explodes for an Opening Day to Remember
The tone for the season was set on Opening Day at home against Arizona. Clearly showing Robert Van Scoyoc’s impact on the bats, the Dodgers launched an MLB Opening Day record eight home runs for a 12-5 win. Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez had two apiece, with Austin Barnes, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger joining in on the fun as well.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) March 29, 2019
Muncy Tells Bumgarner to “Go Get It Out of the Ocean”
It’s one of the most tired acts in baseball this decade: a batter gets a good hit off Madison Bumgarner, only for the ornery ace to angrily reprimand them with no provocation. Such was the case on June 9, when Max Muncy took the Giants ace deep for solo shot into McCovey Cove. Despite leaving the batter’s box fairly hastily, MadBum did his usual fun-policing. Rather than just take it, Muncy fired right back, telling Bumgarner to go get the home run out of the ocean. A social media (and t-shirt) field day ensued.
— Dodgers (@LADodger2018) June 9, 2019
The Dodgers Destroy, and Mercilessly Troll, MadBum One Last Time
In what might be his last start against the Dodgers (at least as a Giant), Madison Bumgarner was appropriately dished out plenty of mockery over the “Go Get It Out of the Ocean” incident. Organist Dieter Ruehle rattled off seemingly every ocean-themed song in the cultural lexicon, while plenty of players wore shirts with the slogan. Most importantly, they torched their longtime rival in an eventual 9-8 victory.
— Organist Alert (@organistalert) June 21, 2019
Buehler Dominates Like It’s 1968
A strong contender for game of the year not only because of its ending, but the performance that set it up. That was the 1968-level pitching masterpiece spun by Walker Buehler, who rung up 16 Rockies in nine whole innings. In an era of openers and super bullpens, the kid from Vanderbilt showed why dominant starting pitching truly is the most beautiful science in baseball. (And a key to pace of play, as the game was only two hours and 12 minutes.)
15 of his 16 strikeouts were swinging, tied for the 2nd-most by any starter in a game in the last 10 seasons. pic.twitter.com/6m1bNSqK02
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 22, 2019
Offense Works Five Straight Walks for a Walk-Off
The team went on a 2017-esque streak before the ASB where they not only walked off night after night, but kept finding new ways to do it. Against Diamondbacks reliever Greg Holland, they found the most unconventional manner of winning by working five straight walks with two outs in the ninth. It wasn’t exactly a soaring home run, but it was proof that this team can do whatever it takes to win.
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) July 3, 2019
The first half of the 2019 season has been truly remarkable for the Dodgers. What are your thoughts on this list? Let us know where we hit and where we missed!