A Major League Baseball player’s first career home run is always special, but for Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith on Saturday night, it was particularly memorable.
Smith was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City earlier last week when Austin Barnes went down with an groin injury and in just his fourth career game, Smith stepped to the plate against the Philadelphia Phillies with the game tied at three in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The rookie proceeded to take Phillies reliever Hector Neris deep, resulting in a walk-off home run to give the Dodgers a 4-3 win and clinch of a series victory over Philadelphia.
The long ball was Smith’s first of his career and he told Alanna Rizzo of SportsNet LA after the game that it was also the first walk-off of his life at any level. The walk-off win was the Dodgers’ third season.
Clayton Kershaw got the start on the mound and turned in another solid outing. He pitched seven innings, allowing just six hits and one run while striking out six and walking none. He did not earn a win as the bullpen blew a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning, but the Dodgers have now won all nine games he has started this season and 17 straight in the regular season dating back to last August.
The Dodgers’ offense was able to break through for the first time on Saturday night in the bottom of the third inning. Max Muncy reached on a single and then later scored on a two-out single by Kiké Hernandez.
L.A. resumed the scoring in the bottom of the fifth when David Freese led off the inning with a solo home run, his fifth of the season. He has been great since the Dodgers acquired him last season and is now batting .280/.416/.537 after a 1-for-3 night.
Freese was in the lineup in large part because of the Phillies starting a left-handed ‘opener.’ Freese started in the leadoff spot for the first time this season.