The Dodgers defeated the Texas Rangers on Thursday night 1-0 in the series finale to avoid a four game sweep despite more pathetic offense. Thursday night’s victory saw the Dodgers do something they haven’t done in five years. I am talking about a balk-off victory.
“The Dodgers will take a run any way they can get it” ~ Vin Scully
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With a scoreless tie in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Dodgers got consecutive lead-off walks from Yasmani Grandal, and Andre Ethier. Ranger’s rookie right hander Keone Kela got Alberto Callaspo to ground into a double play on a 3-2 count after he failed to lay down a bunt. The double play sent pinch-runner Enrique Hernandez to third base. With two outs in the inning, and Jimmy Rollins at the plate, Kike tried to bluff like he was going to steal home on Kela.
I don’t know why Kela would even think Hernandez would steal home, but Kike got a big lead and was pretty far down the third base line. The strategy worked, as Kela got flustered and flinched. He moved his shoulder after staring at Kike coming down the third base line. The umpires called a balk on him, and Hernandez was awarded the extra base to win the game for the Dodgers.
Balk-offs are quite rare though. As a matter of fact the Dodgers haven’t had a balk-off in five years. However it does happen. Do you remember where you were on May 31, 2010?
Almost five years ago to the day, the Dodgers were playing the Dbacks at home with Chad Billinglsey on the mound. Boy was that a different era? Andre Ethier had just returned from the disabled list, Rafael Furcal was actually healthy and playing shortstop, and Manny Ramirez hit a home run.
During that game it was tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth. Rookie right hander Esmerling Valquez was on the mound for the Snakes. James Loney led off with a walk, and Casey Blake’s single advanced him to second. After Loney was picked-off of second base, Casey Blake eventually advanced to third. That setup the game winning balk.
With Blake on third with two outs, he tried to fake out Vasquez in the same way that Hernandez did to Kela on Thursday night. I can still remember Vasquez getting all confused and pointing at Blake. Beardo walked into score, and the Dodgers had a balk-off win.
It happens every once in a while. As Vin Scully said, “the Dodgers get a gift, and turn out the lights”. What a gift it was too. Only in Los Angeles guys.