DENVER -- The much-improved Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen had one get away Friday, but that didn’t mean all of the team’s throws were not worth talking about.
“As far as the degree of difficulty, that might be one of the best plays I have ever seen,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And I think that people have made amazing plays throughout history, but I think the degree of difficulty, from trying to make a play off the wall to recover a ball running away from you, to pick it up and throw a strike from however far away, I just can’t think of a player in baseball that can make that play.”
The Dodgers ultimately lost Friday’s game, 7-5, to the Colorado Rockies, when reliever Chris Hatcher gave up a two-run triple to Brandon Barnes in the eighth inning. But at the time Puig made his throw, he helped starting pitcher Scott Kazmir maintain a one-run lead.
“That was unbelievable, it really was,” Kazmir said. “I mean, first, right when he threw it, I didn’t think it would make it there and then it just seemed like it sped up as it was halfway there. I mean, just right on the money. It was unbelievable.”
Puig would have preferred the team victory, but he was happy to help in what was a key situation at the time.
“I usually just try to do the best and have my teammates do the rest, just like in the other throw [to home] when it wasn’t there and the game was tied,” Puig said through an interpreter.
That other throw came two innings later, when the Rockies dared to test Puig’s arm again. They were rewarded when DJ LeMahieu hit a fly ball along the foul line in medium right field and Barnes scored ahead of a late and wide throw that Puig made across his body.
Known for his rocket arm, Puig was asked if the fifth-inning throw was his best throw ever, considering the circumstances. He wasn’t ready to put himself up there with one of the best plays ever in baseball.
“I think it was my best throw,” Puig said. “I don’t know if it’s the best play. That’s up to you guys [the media].”
Told it was up there, Puig said, “That came from you guys. I didn’t say that.”
Other throws were not as memorable. There was the pitch Hatcher made to Barnes, obviously, that ended up deciding the game. But there were also the pitches Kazmir was fighting through, with what Roberts labeled a “little something with his thumb.” There was also the pitch that Yimi Garcia let go and left him with right biceps soreness.
Kazmir was asked about the thumb, but it was not a subject he was interested in discussing.
“I don’t want to put anything like that out there, like it’s an excuse or anything,” Kazmir said. “You just have to get it done.”
Garcia also tried to fight through his issue, losing both velocity and command for two pitches before calling out the training staff. He left the game after 18 pitches and expressed a high level of concern.
“I am a little worried,” Garcia said through an interpreter. “Nobody wants that to happen.”
Garcia went through tests afterward, but the severity of the injury still is not known. In all likelihood, he will go on the disabled list Saturday. Louis Coleman also is out on bereavement leave after his grandfather passed away this week.
And just when the Dodgers’ bullpen was getting on track after a slow start. In the seven games prior to Friday, the relievers had a collective 0.34 ERA, while limiting opposing batters to a .094 batting average with 21 strikeouts and four walks.
Even Hatcher had been improved after his rough start, but saw his ERA zoom back up to 4.23.
“You know, I thought I threw the ball pretty decent,” Hatcher said. “He battled me and got the pitch he was looking for and put a good swing on it. It’s baseball. You can’t win ’em all. Be ready tomorrow.”