LOS ANGLES -- If you’re looking to avoid Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly dismissing your question outright, don’t ask about the significance of an extra-innings win while shorthanded, as was the case in Saturday’s 5-2 victory in the 12th inning over the Chicago Cubs.
Sure, on the surface, coming through with only limited availability from key players such as Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez and none from A.J. Ellis would appear to add an additional layer of accomplishment. At the very least, it’s a reasonable hypothesis.
The skipper, however, immediately shot down the premise.
“I think we make a little too much of that," Mattingly said. "A couple guys out of the lineup. Maybe in years past, it would have been different. [But] we’ve got plenty of guys here that have come through in big moments. We didn’t have Adrian. We didn’t have Yasiel. But we do have Matt [Kemp]. We do have Hanley [Ramirez]. We still have Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. There’s a number of guys that have come through for you, not counting even the [Scott] Van Slykes and J.T.’s [Justin Turners] and the Dee Gordons.
“We got a good club. And a lot of different people can do things for us.”
Although it’s certainly uncool of Mattingly to kill a scribe’s sweeping narrative of triumph over adversity, the truth is he’s correct.
Upon breaking their early-season doldrums, the Dodgers have demonstrated time and time again an ability to not just win tough games but also do so as a unit.
Asked what he saw from the team over the dozen innings Saturday, reserve catcher Drew Butera smiled and said, “What didn’t I see?”
Nearly every Dodger who stepped on the field found a way to chip in, not necessarily in predictable ways.
For example, Ramirez was the hero with his three-run walk-off home run -- the first of his career. But he also made key plays with his often maligned glove.
Turner drew a 12th-inning walk against Cubs reliever Blake Parker, which perhaps rattled the pitcher and set the table for the severely hanging curveball Ramirez deposited into left field.
Gordon, Crawford, Kemp -- who contributed a two-run homer of his own -- and starter Hyun-Jin Ryu -- who threw seven solid innings -- made big contributions on defense. Jamey Wright battled in late relief. J.P. Howell cleaned up a mess inherited from Brandon League. And on down the line.
“It’s about the team,” Ramirez said. “It’s not one guy.”
While walking through a fairly quiet clubhouse, Kemp suddenly let out the loudest “whoo” since Rod Tidwell in “Jerry Maguire.” Several members of the media jumped at the noise, but one remained perfectly calm.
Kemp proceeded to congratulate him for not flinching -- neither did the Dodgers, for nearly five hours Saturday night.