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Yasiel Puig leaves the Dodgers a play to remember

June 04, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck

So the play. No, I mean, the play.

To be honest, it kind of came out of nowhere. Or at least happened so suddenly it barely gave anyone time to muster up any anticipation.

But the situation was fairly crucial. Bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers hanging on to a 2-1 lead, beleaguered closer Brandon League on the mound Monday having already surrendered a one-out walk to the Padres’ Chris Denorfia.

And then Kyle Banks connected, and more than a few hearts at Dodger Stadium paused as outfielder Yasiel Puig turned and started sprinting to the right-field wall. Denorfia was running on the play, steaming for second.

As Puig got to the warning track, he had to turn his body the other way before making a slightly awkward one-handed catch. He still hadn’t time to get his body fully behind his throw and had to make a slight spin before firing to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, shortstop Luis Cruz and second baseman Nick Punto were acting like they were about to turn a double play. Denorfia, running with his head down, apparently had not see the ball rocket over his head. He slid into second base.

“Denorfia was stuck at second base because he had slid,” Gonzalez said. “The biggest part of that play is the guys up the middle faking him out. If they don’t do that, he’s standing up at first base.”

Puig’s throw came on a direct line, broke the sound barrier and went straight into the glove of Gonzalez.

First base umpire Laz Diaz, who had to go out to the edge of the grass to track the fly, ran back to first, while homeplate umpire Mark Wegner shifted to back up any play at first base.

Initially the two umpires looked at each other. There was this frozen pause while everyone waited for the call. Finally, Wegner signaled Denorfia was out for the game-ending double play. The place exploded.

“It is Hollywood,” said Manager Don Mattingly.

The Cuban kid making his major-league debut, who had already delivered two singles, still had an electrifying ending to deliver.

“It was a big throw and has to be on target, which it was,” Gonzalez said. “As soon as he let go of it I knew we had a shot because I took a peek back and saw where Denorfia was. Once it got close I thought, `He’s going to be out.’ ”

It was a very close play, but such a spectacular play, it would have been difficult not to reward Puig. Whether anticipating it or not.

“How can you not be surprised by that ending?” asked Mattingly.

How could not be left marveling just a bit at the play?

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