Taylor’s walk-off home run lifts Dodgers

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (News4usonline) – Repeating as world champs is not going to be easy for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The St. Louis Cardinals proved as much, taking the Dodgers and their lineup of mega-hitters all the way to the bottom of the ninth inning with just one run punched across the scoreboard.

One run and a whole lot of tension and anxiety going on in a 1-1 ballgame where the pitching and strategy dominated the hitting. The wildcard game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals was a one-off, meaning lose and go home. If you win, you move on.

The Dodgers are moving on to face the San Francisco Giants in the National League Divisional Series after their hiccup and heartbeat-pumping win against the Cardinals. Managers Dave Roberts and the Dodgers can thank Chris Taylor for this victory.

The Dodgers needed just one hit from Taylor to have an opportunity to face off against the San Francisco Giants again. Taylor delivered a two-run home in the Dodgers’ turn at-bat in the bottom of the ninth inning for a dramatic walk-off home for the Boys in Blue. The Dodgers claimed victory with a 3-1 win.

 “It’s exciting,” Roberts said after the game in a postgame press conference. “I think first and foremost to get through this one elimination game, it took us actually our entire roster to get through it. Obviously hats off to the players and coming up in big spots.”

Roberts continued, “I just love the way coming into this game, knowing how to have a built-in excuse as far as a one-game elimination game, we were prepared to win a ballgame. Hats off to the Cardinals. They gave us everything we could handle. So yeah, I think it’s great. It’s what baseball wants, Giants, Dodgers, one of the great rivalries in sports, and it’s happening.”

It’s hard to imagine that it would be Taylor to come to the rescue for the Dodgers, not after the way he had been hitting the last two months. During the regular season, Taylor clubbed 20 home runs, drove in 73 runs, and scored 92 times.

Pretty solid stats, for sure. But in during the months of August and September, Taylor’s hitting went south. He hit .233 in the month of August and just .115 in September. Taylor was not in the starting lineup against the Cardinals. What mattered though is that he delivered, which Roberts talked about.

“I think just to put it simply is the game honors you,” remarked Roberts. “He wanted to be in there tonight, but he was ready when called upon. He prepares just like no other. To come in and make a really nice play defensively that doesn’t really show up in the box score, and to pop out his first at-bat but to kind of be present in the moment and execute a plan and put a good swing, that’s why he’s our Campanella recipient this year. That’s why he’s one of the leaders on this club.”

Though he didn’t get the nod to start, Taylor said he stayed prepped and ready to go if and when Roberts called on him.

“I was just trying to stay ready off the bench,” Taylor said. “I knew there was a really go chance I was going to come in at some point, just the way we operate. I was trying to be ready when my number was called. These are the type of moments that you dream about and you live for, and to be able to look back on this for the rest of my life. I’m just fortunate that I was able to come through in that spot.”

After scoring in the first inning, the Cardinals drew a blank the rest of the way, being held to just five hits from six Dodgers pitchers. Max Scherzer, who pitched four and one-third inning before being lifted by Roberts, said his goal was not to give up anything past that one run to the Cardinals.

“I was just pitching on pins and needles,” Scherzer said. “I gave up that early run in the first and just in my mind was just keep it to a one-run game. Then it became a tie game. You don’t want to give up another run at that point. A lot of your pitches that you’re trying to execute, you’re on pins and needles trying to make sure you’re not making a mistake and give up a homer.”

Cardinals pitching ace Adam Wainwright didn’t make it easy for the Dodgers, striking out five batters and holding Los Angeles to four hits through five and one-third innings. Wainwright said whichever team won the wildcard matchup has an opportunity to make some real noise in the postseason.

“That’s two good baseball teams playing a good baseball game,” Wainwright said. “Whoever won this game was going to have a really great chance to have a deep run in the postseason. That’s how we looked at it. We really felt confident coming into this game that we were going to win today. We did. We’ve been playing great baseball.”

Featured Image Caption: LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 06: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor (3) celebrates as he rounds the bases after hittting a walk-off two run home run in the 9th inning of the MLB National League Wild Card game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 6, 2021 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)