While we sit and wait for the opening pitch of Game 1 between the Dodgers and Nationals, let’s refresh some Dodger Blue memories. Here are my top 5 moments from the second half of the season:
5. July 29 The epic seventh inning between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks.
The game started off well enough, with the Dodgers leading 3-0 after six innings. In the top half of the 7th inning, the overworked Dodgers bullpen melted down into a never-ending, station-to-station, bases loaded situation that left Arizona ahead 7 to 3.
The Dodgers roared back in their half of the inning with twin, 2-run home runs by Chase Utley and Joc Pederson to tie the game. Then Yasmani Grandal stepped up with an RBI single to put the Dodgers ahead, 8-7.
The Dodgers won 9-7, and moved to within one game of the Giants in their climb to retake the NL West lead.
That incredible 7th inning took 1 hour, 13 minutes to complete. It started at 8:56, and ended at 10:06 p.m. We saw 11 pitchers, 21 batters, and 12 runs scored.
4.Aug. 16 Chase Utley returns to Philadelphia.
Long before Chase Utley wore Dodger blue, he wore Phillies red. This game marked his return to Philadelphia and the stadium he called home for 12 years. The first time he stepped to the plate he received a standing ovation that ran 1 minute, 15 seconds.
In the 5th inning he mashed a two-run home run. Despite hitting a home run against the home team, the Phillies fans called Utley out for a curtain call.
Two innings later, he hit a two-out, grand slam. The fans called him out once again.
One almost never sees a curtain call for a visiting player – particularly in Philadelphia, in a stadium filled with fans that are often hostile toward opposing players. And you would NEVER see two curtain calls in the same night. That happened for Chase Utley.
3. Aug 21 vs Reds The Launching Pad
The Dodgers jumped out to a fast 3-0 lead over the Reds on the strength of a 3-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez. At that point, things looked pretty good. Who knew they were going to get even better?
By the end of the 3rd, the Dodgers were leading 6-1, but starter Scott Kazmir, was running out of gas and giving up runs. One inning later, the Dodgers lead was 6-4.
Then came the 5th inning. The Dodgers launched two sets of back to back home runs in the same inning. When they were done, the boys had blasted four homers and scored six runs. It was the first four home run inning since the famous 4+1 Game vs Padres in 2006.
The Dodgers hit 7 HR on the day, with three back to back sets.
Gonzo hit three HRs and chalked up 8 RBIs.
It was the first time the for the Dodgers franchise that two players hit their first ML homers back to back, and only the eighth time in history.
Corey Seager was on a 13 game hitting streak (10 were multi-hit games). Also on that day, he tied the Dodgers record for home runs by a shortstop in a season.
2. Monday Sept. 5 Labor Day. Zack Greinke‘s return to Chavez Ravine.
It was nice to see the mercenary get run by the team he deserted. The Dodgers rapped four HR off him in the 5th. The heroes were Gonzalez, Pederson, Seager and Turner.
It probably comes as no surprise, my top memory from ALL of 2016 is…
Sept. 25 Vin Scully’s final broadcast game of his glorious seven-decade career.
The Dodgers were holding at a magic number of one, and trying to clinch the NL West title by defeating the Colorado Rockies, who would just not go away quietly.
In their first at bats that day, each Dodger tipped his helmet towards Vinny’s broadcast booth in a show of Dodger Blue love and respect to the Hall of Famer on his last day of work at Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers were behind 0-1 most of the day, with Vinny reminding us that “That’s just the way they have always done things.” They tied the game in the 7th, when ROY Corey Seager knocked in Justin Turner with a triple.
In the 9th, with two out and two strikes, Kenley Jansen gave up a go-ahead solo home run.
The crowd in the stadium, and lots of us at home, absolutely deflated, and began hoping the Padres would defeat the Giants for us. Getting into the playoffs through the back door wouldn’t be too bad.
But Corey Seager wasn’t done. He tied the game again with a home run in the bottom of the 9th.
In the bottom of the 10th, Charlie Culberson gave the Dodgers a storybook ending, with a walk-off home run to win the game in dramatic fashion, complete with Vin Scully narrating the action for his final play called at Chavez Ravine.
That was dramatic enough, but then, the amazing happened.
In the midst of the division championship celebration, Vin, with mike in hand, rose to address the crowd. 51,000 boisterous fans suddenly quieted, to hear the words from Scully. He profusely thanked the fans, and then we all listened to a recording of Vinny himself belting out a heartfelt rendition of “The Wind Beneath My Wings.”
The Dodgers on the field below waved their caps in a salute to Scully, as fans wept in the stands and at home – your faithful writer included.
When the song ended, everyone shifted back into champagne celebration mode. It was like nothing that Dodger Stadium had ever seen before, or ever will again.
To Vinny and all the Dodgers, thanks for the memories. Those were my favorites. How about yours?