Giving Kolten Wong biggest at-bat of Dodgers' season was certainly a choice

Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers
Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Give Ketel Marte all the credit in the world for saving an additional run with a headlong dive that kept Kiké Hernández's ground ball single on the infield, but even after that sparkler, the Dodgers still had all the momentum in the sixth inning of Monday's Game 2.

The bases remained loaded. A rookie who began the season at Amarillo, as Bob Costas so deftly noted 100 times, was on the mound in the form of Andrew Saalfrank. Only one man had been retired. Rookie of the Year candidate (in a universe without Corbin Carroll) James Outman was at the plate.

With the count in his favor, Outman kindly invited Saalfrank back into the at-bat, then swung over strike three. The crowd cooed. Momentum had been blunted. But, never fear, because Dave Roberts followed up his wise decision earlier in the inning to taunt the lefty with consecutive pinch-hitting appearances from Chris Taylor and Hernández with another bright idea: Kolten Wong.

Instead of keeping (admittedly light-hitting) Miguel Rojas in the game and moving him to second/sliding Hernández to second instead, Roberts subbed in Wong for the Dodgers' spark plug, he of the 30 intriguing at-bats at the end of the 2023 season.

To be fair to Roberts, he hit .300 with a 127 OPS+. To be unfair to Roberts, he'd hit .165 with the Seattle Mariners in 67 games prior. Wong dribbled to first, and though Outman chasing may have been the chief culprit of ending the inning before its regularly-scheduled conclusion, this is the move that will long be remembered.

Dodgers use Kolten Wong for Miguel Rojas in biggest at-bat of Game 2 of NLDS

Wong, the consummate team player, has worn the goat horns in October before, getting picked off to end a World Series game during his time with the Cardinals (2013 vs. the Red Sox).

This time, though, he deserves no scorn for simply Being an Aging Kolten Wong. The fault falls on Dave Roberts' shoulders, and if the Dodgers don't come back, they'll be scorned for running through their entire midseason scrap heap in the biggest inning of the short series.