Dodgers Clinch NL West On Charlie Culberson Walk-Off Home Run
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Los Angeles Dodgers were in position to clinch the National League West with a win, Sunday’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies was played under a heavy backdrop as the stunning news of Jose Fernandez’s death impacted players throughout the league.

Among them was Yasiel Puig, who grew close to Fernandez, and dedicated Sunday’s game to the late Miami Marlins ace. The matchup against the Rockies marked the end of Vin Scully’s career at Dodger Stadium.

As for on-field matters, Brandon McCarthy made his first start since Aug. 13. His return from the disabled list began on a positive note.

Just as McCarthy did in his 2016 debut, he struck out Charlie Blackmon to open the game. After a groundout, McCarthy ended a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout.

Tyler Anderson allowed a two-out single to Corey Seager but retired Yasiel Puig to prevent the Dodgers from mounting any sort of rally. McCarthy set the Rockies down in order in the second, collecting back-to-back strikeouts in the process.

Adrian Gonzalez singled and Carlos Ruiz doubled to give the Dodgers a pair of runners in scoring position with nobody out in the bottom half of the inning. But Anderson worked his way out of the jam by retiring Kiké Hernandez, Charlie Culberson and McCarthy.

Christian Adames’ leadoff single in the third ended McCarthy’s perfect game. Dustin Garneau followed with an RBI double down the left-field line, giving the Rockies a 1-0 lead. Howie Kendrick made a diving catch two batters later, robbing Blackmon of a hit but surrendering a sacrifice fly.

The Dodgers again had two men reach with nobody out, as Kendrick singled and Turner doubled in the bottom of the third. They managed to push a run across the second time around, courtesy of Puig’s sacrifice fly.

A Nolan Arenado leadoff walk was erased on a force out, and David Dahl was then picked off first base. McCarthy then got Gerardo Parra to line out to complete another scoreless inning of work. Culberson flared a two-out single into right field with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.

Although Josh Ravin was warming up, McCarthy hit for himself and kept the inning alive by drawing a walk. Nothing came of it however, as Anderson retired Kendrick. Turner drew a leadoff walk and Puig singled with one out in the fifth, but both were stranded.

McCarthy was removed after allowing a one-out single to LeMahieu in the sixth inning. Luis Avilan took over and ended the inning on a groundout, and strikeout after intentionally walking Arenado.

A Culberson single in the bottom of the sixth was erased when pinch-hitter Rob Segedin grounded into an inning-ending double play. J.P. Howell allowed a flare single to Adames with one out in the seventh and gave way to Pedro Baez.

He ended the inning on a strike ’em out, throw ’em out. After Turner singled in the bottom half of the inning, Seager tied the game with a triple that was fair by the slimmest of margins, landing on the chalk down the right-field line.

Chris Rusin overcame Adames’ two-out error that allowed Culberson to reach, by retiring pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal to keep the game tied at 2-2 after eight innings. The tie was broken in the ninth when Dahl connected for a solo home run off Kenley Jansen.

Seager once again lifted the Dodgers off the mat, tying the game in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out solo home run. Joc Pederson pinch-hit for Puig and drew a four-pitch walk from Rockies reliever Boone Logan, but was stranded by Gonzalez.

Joe Blanton worked around an Adames leadoff single and Blackmon’s two-out infield single in the 10th inning to keep the game knotted in a tie. Racing against time with the Padres closing in on a victory, Culberson delivered a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th to clinch the NL West for the Dodgers.