Triple Play Caps Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium
On a day when the Dodgers celebrated the most historic moment in both franchise and Major League history, the Dodgers pull a historic if not awkward triple play in their 5-4 walkoff victory against the San Diego Padres.
Closer Javy Guerra was on the mound in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game and got into trouble giving up a base hit to pinch hitter Yonder Alonso and a walk to Chase Headley, only the second of each he had given up early this season.
The craziness started as Jesus Guzman showed bunt. The fastball from Guerra caught Guzman's bat between his hands. Home plate umpire Dale Scott moved back and moved his arms up in an apparent dead ball signal.
"I didn't hear anything from the umpire behind me," catcher A.J. Ellis said who started the triple play. "One thing you learn is if you don't hear anything you just keep playing and don't assume anything. Just play play play until somebody stops you."
So around the horn to third baseman Juan Uribe to shortstop Dee Gordon covering second base and to first baseman James Loney while the everyone in a Padres uniform insisted that Scott had called the play dead.
Scott contends that he never did and that his arms moving up was coincidental.
"I heard bat," Scott said. "I moved out of the way of the catcher, and now, all of the sudden, I have two bodies in front of me."
Padres' manager Bud Black was ejected arguing the call, but the Dodgers' first triple play since June 13, 1998 stood after the umpires conferenced. Although unconfirmed it seems that this is only the second time in Major League history that a triple play was recorded 2-5-6-3. The only other time was the first game of a doubleheader between the St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies on May 21, 1950, also a Sunday game. In the bottom of the first inning Eddie Waitkus struck out while Richie Ashburn was caught stealing third base and a running Granny Hamner was caught at second base.
The triple play seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Padres. With the game resting on Padres' reliever Brad Brach's arm, and it was in trouble right off the bat with a leadoff walk to Juan Rivera. Eventually the bases were loaded for pinch hitter Jerry Hairston, Jr. who in two pinch-hit appearances this season has walked and doubled.
Naturally Hairston popped up to second baseman Orlando Hudson in foul territory leaving the runners in place for Dee Gordon.
"Dee was a little rough today," Manager Don Mattingly admitted. That was an understatement as Gordon was 1-for-5 heading into the at-bat striking out swinging in his previous two appearances.
"I was just persevering and trying to get something I can hit," Gordon said. After fouling off the first two pitches, Gordon found something to hit and lined it to left field to send everyone home.
"Dee's a kid, he's young, he's going to have days that he's going to struggle," Mattingly said. "But then he's going to do things like this."
It seemed a fine greeting for Vin Scully's return who missed five games due to a severe cold.
"The doctor told me later on that I was a click away from pneumonia," Scully said before the game. "So that was serious."
Despite feeling a bit sluggish due to the antibiotics, Scully was determined to work this game.
"I kept thinking, give me a nice sunny day at Dodger Stadium. And I thought Sunday would be the day. So in my own private little world, this is my Opening Day. I have Kershaw, he's no bad crowd to hang around with. I'm not going to be serving Baccarat crystal in the way they dress up Opening Day. My little Opening Day will be a used jelly glass with some water in it. Hopefully I'll have some fun and stop feeling sorry for myself and getting back to work."
Matt Kemp gave Scully a great introduction going 3-for-4 with a walk and a leadoff homer in the third inning. On the season Kemp is batting .487 with six homers and 16 RBI.
"I'm just trying to find ways to help the team win," Kemp said. Despite starting the season off on a feverish pace, he was trying to downplay it.
"It's very early. Very early. It's a long season. I've just got to keep going."
It seemed the only thing to go wrong for Scully's home debut was the fact Clayton Kershaw didn't have his best game. He didn't last the sixth inning giving up four runs, three of which were earned. Three walks, a single and a sacrifice bunt spelled his day in the sixth inning.
With the score 4-2 at that point, Josh Lindblom couldn't limit the damage giving up the tying runs on Jeremy Hermida's two-run single.
Nevertheless the walk off, the triple play, the series sweep of the Padres, the Major League-best 9-1 record, the return of Vin Scully: it was all a perfect way to celebrate Jackie Robinson and his impact on not only every player in the Major Leauges but the entire country.