What’s been a trying season for Austin Barnes was washed away during the final days of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ homestand as he played a pivotal role in two wins.
On Thursday, Barnes hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of a 1-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Then in the first game of a doubleheader against the Miami Marlins, he dropped down a squeeze bunt to tie the game, also in the eighth inning, before Mookie Betts followed with a two-run single.
“Just got to keep going. There’s still season left,” answered Barnes when asked if the two moments can erase the sting of season-long struggles. “Every time we go out there I take pride in winning the game.
“We’ve been doing that on all sides of the ball. I think the pitchers have been throwing the ball really well too. (Ryan) Pepiot looked really good and found a good rhythm with him. It’s good to keep moving forward and just keep going.”
Barnes’ RBI bunt single came with the Dodgers down to their final four outs in the game. Marlins rookie Eury Pérez had shut them out with a career-high 10 strikeouts over six innings, and Andrew Nardi pitched a scoreless seventh.
But James Outman’s walk and a Kiké Hernández single off David Robertson put runners at the corners and created a situational at-bat for Barnes that he could see before stepping into the batter’s box.
“I knew the bunt was coming,” Barnes said. “I didn’t even need to look at the signs.”
He noted the overall difficulty in defending such a play, particularly with a player of Outman’s speed at third base.
“You feel better when Outman’s on third than like if J.D. was out there,” Barnes said with a laugh. “That’s my guy though. I’m not trying to say anything, but you definitely feel better with a faster guy at third.”
In his last seven games (six starts), Barnes is batting .353/.389/.529 with one home run, three RBI and one walk.
Dodgers confident in Austin Barnes
Despite the 33-year-old struggling for much of the season, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had no hesitation in asking him to get the key bunt down due to there being “no one” he trusts more in that situation.
“I give Austin a lot of credit. The last few weeks he’s been a complete baseball player. Sometimes when you’re struggling, you want to swing your way out of it,” Roberts added.
“For him to be able to step back, play for the good of the team and his teammates, and to win a baseball game, I trust him more than anyone in that spot. He’s come through more times than not. It was a big play to tie the game and then break it open a little bit with Mookie. On both sides of the baseball he’s really playing great ball.”
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