Bickford sets stage for red-hot LA to walk off in 12
Thompson draws game-winning walk after Twins put Muncy on to load bases
7:37 AM UTC
LOS ANGELES — During Spring Training, about two dozen members of the Dodgers were asked to construct a fictional basketball team of their teammates. Part of that survey included picking one player who you would want because of how good of a teammate he is.
Bickford’s dedication to the team and desire to help the Dodgers win was on full display in the thrilling 9-8 walk-off win over the Twins in 12 innings on Monday at Dodger Stadium. Bickford tossed a career high three innings in relief, and his 48 pitches were the most he’d thrown in the Majors.
“I mean, as good of an outing from him as you’ll ever see,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Everyone in that room knows that he really cares. He cares more about being a good teammate than being a good baseball player, truth be told, and he left it all out there and we needed every bit of it.”
Noah Syndergaard got the start for the Dodgers, but he was limited to just four innings and 59 pitches. Syndergaard left the clubhouse before talking to the media, but Roberts said the decision to pull the right-hander was made because of his effectiveness late in the game and also trying to be mindful of a cut on his right index finger that knocked him out of his last start after just one inning.
Because of Syndergaard’s short start, the Dodgers knew they were going to need a strong performance from their bullpen. But Yency Almonte and Evan Phillips didn’t get the job done in the eighth and ninth, respectively. Almonte allowed three runs in the eighth, and Phillips blew his first save of the season on a Byron Buxton RBI double in the ninth.
After nine innings, the Dodgers only had Bickford, Brusdar Graterol and Victor González left in the bullpen. Graterol, however, had pitched in two consecutive games and González threw 27 pitches in 1 2/3 innings on Sunday. That forced Bickford to pitch the 10th, 11th and 12th, and he rose to the challenge.
In the 10th, it looked like Bickford was going to have another shaky outing. He walked Kyle Farmer to start the frame and Willi Castro loaded the bases with a bunt single. Bickford then walked Christian Vázquez to give the Twins the lead. But with the bases still loaded, Bickford found his rhythm and struck out Donovan Solano and Alex Kirilloff before getting Michael A. Taylor to fly out to limit the damage.
Once the Dodgers tied it in the bottom half, Bickford went back out for a second inning and tossed up a zero. In the 12th, Bickford, who was visibly running out of gas on the mound, pushed through and kept the Twins off the board once again. Bickford picked up the win, and it’s hard to imagine a more hard-earned victory than this one.
“It made me very happy,” Bickford said, when asked about his teammates celebrating the right-hander after the game. “This team is super cool. We’ve all got each other’s back, and it just made it that much more neat to be able to be given an opportunity like that and come out on the winning side. It was super cool.”
As unlikely of a hero as Bickford was on the mound, the Dodgers also got a much-needed boost from an unexpected source on the offensive side. While Max Muncy homered twice and Will Smith added one of his own, it was Trayce Thompson who ended his night running away from his teammates after drawing a walk-off walk off right-hander Jorge López in the 12th.
Thompson is mired in an 0-for-30 slump and hasn’t recorded a hit since April 17, but the outfielder remained calm in a tough situation. He fell behind in the count, but didn’t panic and ultimately drew the walk on a fastball that was too high.
“I’m tough on myself. I expect a lot from myself,” Thompson said. “I’m not looking to just take a pitch right there. That’s a really good pitcher. If he throws a pitch right down the middle and I’m not aggressive, it’s tough to sleep at night. You just have to take it as any other 3-2 at-bat.”
The Dodgers have now won six in a row and 14 of their last 16. Their stars have carried them for most of that run. But on Monday, two unlikely heroes stepped up, showing off the depth of the squad.
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