On Wednesday, the Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the best way possible. Down to their last strike on a day when they couldn’t hit a lick off Cards pitching, Russell Martin dribbled a ground ball through the middle for a sudden 2-1 victory.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) August 7, 2019
It was a win with multiple implications for Los Angeles. Not only did they retain their lead for home field advantage in the World Series, and not only did they soundly defeat a longtime playoff foe they may very well see again this October.
They became the greatest walk-off team in Dodger history.
OK, on a statistical level, that might not be true. As of this moment, they’re still five away from tying the mark set by the 1974 team. They haven’t even passed the 12 provided by the 2009 team a decade ago. But with 10 such wins under their belt already, they’ve tied the 2017 team, which is staggering. (And somewhat surprising, as one’s memory of that magical season two years ago makes it feel like they had twice that number.)
Don’t Leave Early
What sets the 2019 squad apart from previous juggernauts in how they walk off is it feels like such a natural outcome of their versatile, refined approach at the plate. With improved offense all-around courtesy of new hitting instructor Robert Van Scoyoc, the Dodgers’ consistent walking off could be seen as a mere byproduct of how clutch they are game after game. Given the offense’s historic performance on Opening Day, they were quick to find it too. They managed to get their first walk-off on April 15, a full two weeks before the 2017 team did with Absolute Madness on the 29th of that year.
They even do it in games that don’t feel essential. Take the May 29 game against the Mets, in which a surefire 8-3 mid-season trap loss somehow ended on a 9-8 sacrifice fly from Alex Verdugo. Wednesday’s game felt like a typical instance where the opposing team quietly avoids the sweep, until it wasn’t. Granted, given the tight race for home field advantage in all rounds of the postseason, these games truly are essential in the bigger picture, and thus give each walk-off more urgency.
The variety of players who’ve delivered these winning ABs is worthy of note too. In 2009, literally half of the team’s cardiac wins were courtesy of Andre Ethier. While NL MVP frontrunner Cody Bellinger has unsurprisingly had multiple game-ending moments this year, the heroics have also been shared by Russell Martin, Joc Pederson and Max Muncy. On any given night, it feels like anyone can be a hero in a way that even eclipses 2017 .
Most importantly, their flair for the dramatic made history in June when Matt Beaty, Alex Verdugo and Will Smith became the first rookie trio in MLB history to hit game-ending home runs on three consecutive days.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 24, 2019
It’s not just home runs that make the magic either. Sacrifice fly, double, ground ball single…it feels like they find new ways to make it interesting. Even winning a game on a literal walk-off, on the fifth straight BB no less? They’ve got that covered too.
Of course, it has to be noted that the 1974, 2009 and 2017 teams, for all they accomplished, each fell short of the ultimate prize in October. Even if they don’t break the ‘74 (or the ‘09) mark for game-ending magic, the 2019 Los Angeles Dodgers can cement these regular season memories all the more by getting that elusive 11th win in a couple of months. Who knows? Maybe it’ll come on a squibbler from Kristopher Negron after four straight walks. It’d only be fitting.