Tag Archives: Los Angeles Dodgers

That time Boston beat Los Angeles by walk-off

Thought it would be appropriate to do a walk-off in which Boston defeated Los Angeles and to do that, we flash back to June 11, 2004, a time when the Red Sox were not yet thought of as dynastic, but were on their way through the most memorable season in franchise history.

They were facing the Dodgers on a Friday night in Boston. Much like Sunday’s Super Bowl, this game was a low-scoring struggle. Neither team scored through the first six-and-a-half-innings. It was a good pitcher’s duel between Red Sox starter Derek Lowe and Dodgers pitcher Odalis Perez.

Boston scored in the seventh on a home run by (surprise) David Ortiz. That was that until the top of the ninth, and this is the part I like a lot.

Keith Foulke got the first two Dodgers out, which left the game up to none other than the No. 9 hitter, Red Sox-manager-to-be Alex Cora.

Cora reached on an infield single, keeping the game alive for … none other than current Dodgers manager and future Red Sox postseason hero Dave Roberts (how great is that?).

Except Jim Tracy pulled Roberts back and sent up a pinch-hitter, Olmedo Saenz. That seems a little odd given that Roberts was 2-for-4 in the game. Nonetheless, Saenz hit a fly ball to left field that should have ended the game. But the ball got caught in a stiff wind and Manny Ramirez muffed it. Cora came all the way around to score to tie the game.

“There goes my Gold Glove,” Ramirez told reporters with a laugh, after the game.

Foulke got the next batter out and the Red Sox went to work to end the game in the home ninth. It only took three batters. Johnny Damon led off with a walk against Dodgers lefty Tom Martin. Mark Bellhorn than had what might have been the at-bat of the game, doubling on Martin’s ninth pitch to advance Damon to third.

Given the choice of pitching to Ortiz with runners on second and third or Ramirez with the bases loaded, the Dodgers went after Ortiz. Note to self: Don’t ever pitch to David Ortiz in a walk-off situation.

Ortiz singled on a hanging 0-2 curveball to win the game.

It wasn’t the only time Ortiz would win a game vs a franchise from that part of California in walk-off fashion that season. Remember that Ortiz hit a walk-off home run to beat the Angels in Game 3 of that year’s ALDS. This was just the warm-up.

(If the Rams had won, I was going to something on Jerry Goff’s only walk-off RBI. We’ll save that for another day).

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Bill Buckner’s only walk-off HR started a heck of a streak

I just guested on a podcast in which I told many Bill Buckner stories. But one I didn’t tell was the story of his only walk-off home run.

It came on June 21, 1974 against the Giants and it started a positive barrage of victories of a similar nature. In this one, the Dodgers trailed 3-0 into the bottom of the eighth inning, but scored three runs to tie. The key hits that inning were three of the “barely” variety, by Buckner, Jimmy Wynn (a bunt) and Steve Garvey. Buckner then homered to right off Elias Sosa in the ninth inning to win it.

“I can’t believe it, nor can I say how that ball went out or what the pitch was or anything,” Buckner said afterwards, and this might be the first instance I can remember of a baseball player properly using the word “nor” in a sentence.

Buckner’s surprise also makes sense given that he finished the season with more than four times as many stolen bases (31) as home runs (7).

That was the first win in a 5-1 homestand and what’s crazy is that all five wins were walk-off wins.

The Dodgers won the next day 3-2. Wynn homered in the ninth inning off Jim Barr to tie it and Buckner’s fellow 1968 draft pick, Joe Ferguson, homered in the 10th inning off Sosa to win it.

In the series finale, the Giants led 3-1 in the seventh inning, but the Dodgers scored twice to tie. They won it in the ninth on Ken McMullen’s RBI single.

The Dodgers had a chance at a walk-off win against the Braves in the first game of their next series, but left the tying run on first base and lost by a run.

They took the next one, scoring twice in the ninth to win 2-1. Steve Garvey got the tying hit and Ron Cey got the winner off fellow Washington State baseball alum Danny Frisella.

The last of the wins was a 5-4 victory in the series finale. Ferguson homered to tie it and Manny Mota singled to win it. Mota replaced Buckner mid at-bat with a 1-1 count and a man on second base, an interesting maneuver, though understandable given that pitcher Tom House was a lefty and Alston wanted the platoon advantage.

Amazingly, all five games were won by relief pitcher Mike Marshall. Marshall won 10 games via walk-off that season, the most in a season by a pitcher in the years for which Baseball-Reference has data (dating to 1908).

Yo Adrian (Beltre)!

July 10, 1999 is an awesome day if you like walk-offs. There were six, among them the Mets beating the Yankees on Matt Franco’s two-run single against Mariano Rivera and light-hitting Omar Vizquel clubbing a home run to beat the Reds.

There was also one by second-year Dodgers third baseman Adrián Beltré against the Mariners. It’s significant because it was the first of his long major-league career.

It was a good pitcher’s duel between Kevin Brown and John Halama, with each allowing one run – Halama in seven innings and Brown in eight. In the bottom of the ninth, Jose Paniagua got Gary Sheffield and Eric Karros out to start the inning, but Devon White and Raul Mondesi each walked on 3-2 pitches. Beltré singled home White on the first pitch he saw.

“It’s important to me that the team looks to me in situations like that,” Beltré told reporters after the game, a pretty good quote for a 20-year-old.

Beltré’s team looked to him for walk-offs many times in a career that ended with his retirement earlier this week. In 18 of them, he came through. The second one, a home run, also came against Paniagua and the Mariners on July 7, 2001, nearly two years to the day of the first one.

Among the other highlights:

– On September 22, 2001, Beltré’s two-run single gave the Dodgers a 6-5 win over the Diamondbacks (I’ve previously mentioned my affinity for 6-5 final scores). The Dodgers staged two pretty good comebacks in this game. They were down 3-1 in the ninth inning before Paul Lo Duca hit a game-tying home run against Randy Johnson. Then they were down 5-3 in the 11th in the moments leading up to Beltré’s hit.

The hit was big at the time because it moved the Dodgers within three games of the Diamondbacks for first place with 13 games to go. The Dodgers didn’t catch them, but still pretty cool.

– On August 20, 2003, Beltré hit a two-run home run against Rocky Biddle to give the Dodgers a 3-1 win over the Expos. I like it because of the Rocky/Adrian connection (I hear Creed 2 got good reviews).

– Beltré’s last came on July 25, 2016 against the Athletics. He had four hits and drove in the Rangers’ last three runs of the game, the first with a home run in the seventh inning against John Axford to cut the Rangers lead to 6-5, the second a two-run bomb against Ryan Madson with two outs in the ninth to win the game.

“What superlatives do you want me to put on it?” asked then-Rangers manager Jeff Banister.

There are a lot of superlatives you could put on Adrián Beltré. The walk-offs are just a small piece of his excellence, but one you might have overlooked.