The Los Angeles Dodgers had emptied their bench and were seemingly down to their final available reliever in J.P. Howell when the 13th inning began Sunday. What was a 1:10 start time and supposed to be a getaway day for the Dodgers, who begin a seven-game road trip in Milwaukee Monday, turned into a long afternoon of baseball at Dodger Stadium.
As players frantically dressed in the clubhouse after the game, Howell enthusiastically answered questions about the play in Sunday’s win while still dressed in his baseball pants and and undershirt.
“I was just trying to get in his way a little bit, not block but tag him,” Howell said of his blind tag on Jordan Pacheco at home plate to record the third out in the 13th inning in dramatic fashion. “I knew I was there, right in the middle of it. I just put it down and hoped he didn’t do a creative slide to get around it.”
“The feed from Yas was money,” Howell said of Yasmani Grandal’s throw after recovering the ball. The 32-year-old left-hander also added there was luck involved in the play — luck he was more than happy to accept in what was a grueling day.
Pleased to have been on the right side of a fortunate break, Grandal described the play as ‘interesting’ before delving into more of the specifics from his perspective. “We go backfoot slider that kind bounces a little more than we would have liked to,” Grandal said.
“I tried to stay in front of it and keep it as close to me as I could. It ends up hitting my arm and kind of bounces out. As soon as I see that, I know they’re trying to do whatever they can to score. For me, next thing is to make sure I get to the ball as fast as I can and give him a good toss.”
Brett Anderson and Chase Anderson of the Arizona Diamondbacks started the pitchers’ duel but by the end, neither earned a decision. Brett turned in six scoreless innings and watched the Dodgers bullpen shutout the Diamondbacks over the next six innings.
Howell was tasked with the responsibility with throwing a seventh scoreless frame and that appeared to be in danger after retiring the first two batters he faced. Pacheco hit an innocent single to left field, however it was followed by Aaron Hill’s base hit to center and the Diamondbacks suddenly had the go-ahead run 90 feet away.
They of course wouldn’t score and lost on Grandal’s walk-off home run to leadoff the bottom of the 13th. The win improved the Dodgers’ record to 16-8 and 13-2 at home.