Yasmani Grandal thought he had the day off on Sunday, but the Cuban catcher came in the game as a late-inning replacement and rescued the Dodgers with his defense and offense.
Grandal made the game-saving play in the top half of the 13th inning by throwing a runner out at the plate after a wild pitch by J.P. Howell. Minutes later, he led off the bottom of the 13th with a walk-off home run and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0 for their fourth consecutive victory.
Los Angeles has been an offensive juggernaut at Dodger Stadium this season winning 12 out of 14 games coming into Sunday. In all 12 of those wins, the Dodgers have scored five runs or more every time. On Sunday however, fans in attendance had to wait over four hours for a single run to be scored. Thanks to Grandal, it was worth the wait, as the Dodgers completed the sweep of the NL West rivals.
"The key is keeping the faith," said Grandal. "After the second game of the season there were a lot of people who said our bullpen wasn't good enough. That bothered me a lot, and it makes me mad because I take it personally. Lately it's been lights-out."
In addition to both bullpens, the starting pitchers on Sunday were lights-out as well. It was a duel of Andersons as Diamondbacks starter Chase Anderson went head-to-head with Brett Anderson who started for Los Angeles. The Anderson boys are not related, but they acted like twins on the mound as both pitchers through six scoreless innings each.
Brett was brilliant for the boys in blue who needed a quality start from their pitcher after back-to-back short outings by Carlos Frias and Scott Baker. Anderson struck out four batters in his fifth start of the season.
The Dodgers bullpen would take over from there as the pen has not allowed a run in seven straight games a span of 26 scoreless innings.
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Adam Liberatore pitched a scoreless 8th inning for Los Angeles, and keeps his unprecedented ERA at 0.00. Liberatore has not allowed a run in 2015 on any level (spring training, triple-A, majors).
Howell (1-1) picked up his first win of the season, but not without a little drama and a lot of luck. After allowing a leadoff double, the left-handed reliever had runners at the corners with two outs and Cliff Pennington at the plate. Howell bounced a backdoor slide three feet in front of the plate that got away from Grandal. Aaron Hill came racing in from third and Howell immediately ran to cover the plate. Grandal sprinted to his right, slid to the loose ball, and threw it to Howell who was covering home. Without looking, Howell reached behind his back with his glove and made a remarkable blind tag on Hill for the third and final out.
"Lucky bounce, I wasn't too far from Yasmani and I just prayed and ran," said Howell of the play. "It was a Hail Mary. It worked. We got lucky."
Arizona brought in Saturday night's losing pitcher Evan Marshall (0-2) into the game in the bottom of the 13th and he made just three pitches before Grandal took him deep to end the game in dramatic fashion.
"I thought back to when Joc took him deep last night," said Grandal about facing Marshall. "It was on a fastball, I know he has a pretty good fastball, and I knew he would be comfortable throwing it, so I went up there looking for it, he gave me one and I got a good swing on it."
It was Los Angeles' major league leading 38th home run of the season, and important one for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly who didn't have any more players to put in the game had it continued.
"At that point in the game honestly, you're out of bullets, out of players, you're pretty much in a game you don’t want to be in," said Mattingly. "You want to get out with a W, but obviously the two plays there at the end we're huge."
It was the Dodgers second consecutive sweep of the Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium dating back to last season, it was also the Dodgers first 1-0 win in 13 innings or longer since they beat Arizona by the same score on June 2, 2010 in 14 innings.
It was the first annual Viva Los Dodgers event before the game in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium. Yasiel Puig met with fans and took photos.
Juan Uribe singled in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to twelve games.