Thirty years ago the Dodgers were battling the New York Mets for the National League pennant in what was a seven game dogfight. The Dodgers had gone down 2-1 in the series, and entering game four at Shea Stadium, were desperately in need of a win to avoid going down 3-1 in games. On that night, veteran John Tudor, an arm the Dodgers traded Pedro Guerrero for countered New York flame throwing sensation Dwight Gooden. What followed was one of the greatest MLB postseason games in history that ended with the Dodgers winning in 12 innings.
On Tuesday night the 2018 Los Angeles Dodgers found themselves in a similar situation. After being shutout in game 3 on Monday night, the Dodgers found themselves in a 2-1 series hole, and an offensive black hole. The boys in blue desperately needed a win to keep their pennant hopes alive. The similarities between the two games are striking. Tudor provided the Dodgers with five innings, while the 2018 Dodger’s starter Rich Hill also went five frames. Neither pitcher was involved in the win, but Tudor allowed four earned runs on eight hits, and Hill allowed just one earned run on three hits. Hill struck out six before surrendering a run in the top of the fifth to tie the score at 1-1. The game would remain tied until the bottom of the thirteenth frame.
Like the 1988 NLCS game 4, the 2018 NLCS game 4 had everything. There was great pitching, tense matchups, amazing defensive plays, big hits, and flared tempers. Thirty years ago that NLCS was marred by a suspension to Dodger closer Jay Howell after he was caught with pine tar on his glove. The 2018 NLCS became chippy after Manny Machado clipped Brewer’s first baseman Jesus Aguilar’s leg running out a grounder to first.
The 1988 Dodgers were trailing 4-2 in the top of the ninth when John Shelby walked and contact hitting, but not known for power backstop Mike Scioscia drilled a home run into the right field bullpen. The Dodgers and Mets went into extras.
In the 2018 NLCS, the Dodgers and Brewers were involved in an extra inning game as well. This game was more of a pitching duel, and there was not a home run hit in this game for once. The Dodgers got an early lead when Brian Dozier’s RBI double in the bottom of the first gave the boys in blue a 1-0 advantage. Milwaukee would tie in the fifth when series villain Orlando Arcia singled and Domingo Santana’s pinch-hit double scored him. Hill was seen throwing a tantrum in the dugout, tossing gum, candy, and whatever else he could get his hands on.
Back in 1988, Kirk Gibson would muscle a ball out of the park in the top of the twelfth to give the Dodgers a 5-4 lead. Meanwhile back in 2018, the Dodgers stranding base runner after base runner. They were having trouble making contact as well, striking out seventeen times in the marathon contest.
Back in New York, the Dodgers were struggling to retire the Mets in the bottom of the twelfth. Mackey Sasser started the inning with a single to right off of Dodger right hander Tim Leary. Failing to lay down a bunt, Leo Mazzilli followed suit with a single to center. The Mets had runners at first and second with none out and the Dodgers were in trouble. The Shea Stadium crowd came to their feet as their big bats were due up.
Meanwhile back in the present day at Dodger Stadium, Julio Urias was pitching a scoreless top of the thirteenth. The Dodger bullpen had turned in eighth shutout innings allowing just five hits, one walk and striking out nine. In 1988 Leary got Gregg Jeffries to fly out to left, prompting Tommy Lasorda to make a pitching change. Southpaw Jesse Orosco was brought in to face Keith Hernandez. In 2018 Max Muncy lines out to start the bottom of the thirteenth. Milwaukee hurler Junior Guerra is tossing his fourth inning of relief. The Brewers have little options left in their pen, while the Dodgers have none.
Speaking of little options left, Jesse Orosco was the 88’ Dodger’s last reliever available. With the suspension of Howell they were down a pitcher. After Orosco they had nobody left to pitch save for the game 5 starter Tim Belcher. The 2018 Dodgers were mounting a rally. Manny Machado, the man who boasted about not hustling lines a broken bat single into left to give the Dodgers their first base runner since the bottom of the ninth inning.
Back in New York, the 88’ Dodgers were clinging to a one-run lead. Orosco walked Hernandez and after falling behind Daryl Strawberry, led to Lasorda running out to the mound to talk to Orosco. “what the hell is wrong with you”? He shouted at the lefty. Whatever he said worked, as Orosco induced Strawberry to pop out. The Dodgers were just one out away, but the bases were still loaded and one of the best hitters for the New York club, Kevin McReynolds was due to bat.
Back at Chavez Ravine, Dozier fouls out and the Brewers are one out away from getting out of the inning as well. But with Cody Bellinger at the plate, Guerra uncorked a wild pitch. The ball bounced a few feet from Milwaukee catcher Eric Kratz. That was far enough for Machado to advance to second base. The Dodgers had a runner in scoring position again. The question remained, could they score him?
Travel back to 1988, Flushing New York. The Dodgers are one out away from tying the series at two games apiece. But they had run out of pitchers. Orel Hershiser had been seen warming in the Dodger bullpen. Finally Tommy Lasorda made the move that shocked most fans and pundits. He brought in Hershiser to pitch to McReynolds. That risky move paid off as Hershiser got McReynolds to fly out to shallow center to end the game. Hershiser pumped his fist as the Dodgers filed onto the field in celebration while New York, New York played on the stadium speakers.
The 2018 Dodgers had a runner at second with two outs in the bottom of the thirteenth inning of their game 4. With the count 2-2 on Bellinger, Guerra whirled around for a pick-off attempt at second. Again the man who never hustles, actually hustled back into second. On a headfirst slide Machado was safe, and the Dodger Stadium faithful breathed a sigh of relief. After a pitch in the dirt brought the count to 3-2, Bellinger smacked a base hit into right field just past the diving glove of Aguilar. Machado ran faster than anybody had ever seen him run in Dodger land, past third base as he dove into home plate, hand extended….SAFE! The umpire yelled, Machado leaped into the air, hugging the on-deck hitter Yasmani Grandal as Dodger Stadium erupted into joy. The Dodgers have tied the series and what a wonderful sport baseball is again.