Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Dodgers rally for walk-off win on emotional night for Brusdar Graterol

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LOS ANGELES — It was just another scoreless inning among many. Brusdar Graterol has not allowed a run in his past 21 innings, the longest scoreless streak by a Dodgers pitcher this season.

But it meant so much more.

Graterol was pitching in front of his mother for the first time as a major-leaguer after seeing her for the first time in seven years when she arrived from Venezuela this week. He retired the side in order in the eighth inning then wept on Manager Dave Roberts’ shoulder when he reached the dugout with his mother, Ysmalia, cheering from the family section.

“A lot of emotion. So much emotion that I didn’t know what to do,” Graterol said in Spanish after the Dodgers rallied for a 3-2 walk-off victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

“I didn’t know how to control it. Only cry out of happiness.”

Graterol’s native Venezuela has become both turbulent politically and dangerous for the families of professional athletes because of their relative wealth. Ysmalia was not at her son’s wedding in January 2021 and hadn’t seen his first child, born earlier this year, until this week.

“We’ve been trying for seven years to have her come here,” Graterol said. “The opportunity came up two weeks ago. Thank God they approved a document she needed and we wanted her here as quickly as possible and we were able to do it.”

Meeting his mother at the airport earlier this week “left me paralyzed,” Graterol said.

“I didn’t know what to say,” he said. “All I heard my mom say was that I was very big and beautiful. And the only thing that I told her when I calmed down, was I told her she smelled like home.”

Graterol’s reunion gave meaning to an otherwise meaningless game as the Dodgers bide their time until the postseason. They have done it with a five-game winning streak now after two-out RBIs by David Peralta in the eighth inning and Max Muncy for the walk-off in the ninth, their sixth walk-off win of the season.

“It’s been huge,” Roberts said of the Dodgers’ MLB-leading total of two-out RBIs. “It’s just the value of getting a hit. It’s not about exit velocity. It’s not about launch angle. It’s about putting the barrel on the baseball and hitting outfield grass and driving in a run.

“Our guys top to bottom really understand that. We all like slug but that comes with a cost too at times with the swing and miss and things like that.”

Freddie Freeman has set the tone in that regard, Roberts said, and Freeman moved closer to a pair of milestones with a single and a double Tuesday.

The double was Freeman’s MLB-leading 56th of the season. He has 12 more games to become the first player with 60 doubles in a season since Charlie Gehringer and Joe Medwick did it in 1936. Only six players in baseball history have had more doubles in a season than Freeman already has and his 84 extra-base hits this season matched Shawn Green (2004) and Cody Bellinger (2019) for the most in a season by a Los Angeles Dodger.

If reaching 60 doubles might take some work, Freeman is just two hits short of his first 200-hit season after adding a single to his double Tuesday night. With two more hits, Freeman will become the only first baseman in MLB history to have at least 200 hits, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season.

J.D. Martinez’s numbers are more recent, less historic but bode well for the Dodgers’ postseason run.

Martinez’s solo home run in the fourth inning Tuesday was his third homer in two nights and continued his hot hitting since returning from the injured list. In 10 games since coming back, Martinez has gone 15 for 38 (.395) with a double, four home runs and 14 RBIs.

“Not good. I’d say the last two days I’ve felt better,” Martinez said of how he felt at the plate since returning. “When you’re off and on, off and on, it’s tough to get in a rhythm. So the biggest thing for me is being in there every day and playing every single day, getting that timing, getting all that stuff. That’s just what hitting is.”

Martinez’s homer was topped by two Tiger home runs – solo shots by Parker Meadows and Spencer Torkelson.

Ryan Pepiot entered the game in the second inning and pitched six innings, allowing just Meadows’ home run and working out of jams in the fifth, sixth and seventh.

Pepiot stranded Tyler Nevin at second base after a one-out double in the fifth. In the sixth, the Tigers had two on with two outs and Pepiot got a fly out to end the inning. In the seventh, the Tigers started the inning with back-to-back singles but came away empty.

Pepiot could be pitching his way into an expanded postseason role. Since his late start to the season due to a rib injury, Pepiot has pitched in six games for the Dodgers, three starts and three “bulk” outings. He has a 1.91 ERA, holding batters to a .171 average and most importantly walking only three in 33 innings. Poor command was Pepiot’s undoing during his big-league cameos last season.

“He’s making a good claim,” Roberts said. “He’s open to whatever we need and his part of the deal is he’s got to go out there and pitch well. And he’s holding up his end of the deal.”

In the bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers (93-57) tied the score when Martinez singled, pinch-runner Chris Taylor stole second and scored on Peralta’s double sliced down the left-field line.

In the ninth, Mookie Betts singled with one out, went to second when Will Smith was hit by a pitch and scored on Muncy’s single to right field.

Ysmalia Graterol will stick around for a while, hopefully with some more emotional moments to come, her son said.

“The goal is to have her celebrate the World Series with us and when she wants to go back, she’ll go back,” he said.

#WALKOFF! 😎 pic.twitter.com/EbBGdHofvQ

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) September 20, 2023

What a moment. 🥹

After seven years apart living in Venezuela, Brusdar’s mother watched her son pitch for the first time as a Major Leaguer. pic.twitter.com/nUUJZpxeGb

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 20, 2023

Brusdar and his mom reunited at last. 💙 pic.twitter.com/P8XSJA6Y0U

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 20, 2023

Just dingers. 💪 pic.twitter.com/QfFeAqmD57

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) September 20, 2023

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