If you missed tonight’s game and someone told you tomorrow that the Los Angeles Dodgers won in walk-off fashion off of a two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, you could probably safely assume that the hero part was played by one of the usual suspects. But you would be wrong.
On this cool Tuesday night in Chavez Ravine, it was not the always hot Hanley Ramirez nor “Captain Clutch” a.k.a. Andre Ethier who played the hero. The game was not won in the waning moments by the ever-steady and powerful Adrian Gonzalez nor the Cuban, rookie sensation Yasiel Puig. On this night, Scott Van Slyke, the long time minor leaguer, sent the Dodgers to victory with a pinch hit walk-off blast to the left field corner.
The 6-5, right-handed outfielder has only played in 42 games with the Dodgers this season, but his presence on the team has been spotty all year long as he only came up from the minors when the Dodgers needed an extra set of hands in the outfield. Just about the only part of tonight’s walk-off blast from Van Slyke that was not unexpected is his ability to hit for power. In a total of only 108 MLB at bats in 2013, Van Slyke has managed to hit seven dingers. When manager Don Mattingly decided to pinch hit the pitchers’ spot with Van Slyke, I am sure he remembered the pop that comes with the Missouri native’s bat.
Van Slyke went down to reach for a low breaking ball and sailed it just over the left field fence only a few feet from the foul pole. Dodger Stadium erupted in cheers as the Dodgers dropped their magic number by two for the second time in as many days. With the Dodgers only needing a combination of six of their own wins or Arizona Diamondback losses to clinch the NL West Division, Van Slyke’s heroic moment certainly boosted the ballclub to an almost certain postseason appearance.