The Los Angeles Dodgers erased an 8-5 deficit against the New York Mets by scoring four runs in the ninth inning to secure their second walk-off win this season. Their comeback was capped off by Alex Verdugo, who collected his first career game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly.
Verdugo found himself in that position after the Dodgers began the ninth inning with back-to-back home runs from Joc Pederson and Max Muncy. Mets closer Edwin Diaz continued to spiral from there, allowing consecutive doubles to Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger, which tied the game.
Corey Seager was intentionally walked, then Matt Beaty loaded the bases with an infield single when Amed Rosario fielded the soft chopper but missed stepping on second base to start a potential double play.
Verdugo quickly fell behind in the count 0-2, worked it even and lifted a fly ball on the sixth pitch of his at-bat. He explained taking a big swing on the first pitch before settling back in, via SportsNet LA:
“First pitch, man, I was just swinging. Going for it. I took my chance and then it was kind of just try to see the ball a little deeper, just put a good swing on it. I missed a couple fastballs, fouled them back. Felt like I had paths on them, so just tried to emphasize staying a little shorter and more on top. … I took [a big swing] on the slider and I was like three feet away from hitting it. So after that I was kind of like, ‘Yeah, that’s not me. Let’s tone it back down.'”
The approach is similar to what Verdugo outlined when facing San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates earlier this month at Petco Park. Though in that instance, Verdugo got ahead 2-0, which led to a big swing.
“Bases loaded, two outs, you can get riled up in that situation,” Verdugo said at the time. “Just had to take a couple deep breaths and stick with my normal approach, just see a ball up.
“I was able to get 2-0 right off the bat with two splitters that were down. I gave it my rip on the 2-0 and then after that toned it back down to, ‘Alright, we just need a single.’” He ultimately drew a walk that brought in the go-ahead run.
Wednesday’s moment was not only another highlight but further demonstration of his ability to step into a pressure situation and deliver. Verdugo’s opportunity to play an expanded role came when A.J. Pollock underwent elbow surgery, and the rookie outfielder is doing his part to keep it even when Pollock returns.