You kind of figured heading into this game that with all of the unimaginable hype placed upon Yaisel Puig, chances were more likely than not that he wouldn’t really factor directly into the outcome. That’s was mostly true until the final play of the game, but then again I’m pretty sure no one figured that ex-Dodger Eric Stults and future ex-Dodger Stephen Fife getting into a something of a pitchers duel was what we’d end up seeing instead.
While Puig didn’t directly put any runs on the board, his presence was clearly felt. In his first time up, he lined a ball to left-center for a single. After grounding out to third his next time around, he grounded sharply to first base, charitably receiving a hit when Kyle Blanks couldn’t hold onto it. (Fortunately for Puig, who made a wide turn around the bag as the ball bounced into right, Will Venable chose not to make a throw that may have nailed Puig getting back.) That was followed by a Nick Punto single to right-center, allowing Puig to showcase his outstanding speed by easily getting to third base.
In the eighth, Puig took Tim Stauffer to 3-0 before grounding again to third, reaching via fielder’s choice as Chase Headley tagged out Luis Cruz. (Yes, that means that Cruz actually managed to get to second base for once. Miracles happen every day!) Puig was obviously more than a little amped up, because he was out in front of just about every ball he swung at. He never managed to come around any of the three times he reached, but the talent was obvious; he did manage to show everyone a strong right arm on back-to-back throws from right field in the sixth.
But all of that was just a prelude to the ninth inning, with Brandon League struggling once again — shocker, I know — Blanks flew out to right field with one on and one out. That’s when this happened:
I put that GIF out on Twitter, and the consensus response was something between “my god” and “holy crap!”. Puig-mania. Catch it!
Of course, to focus only on Puig is really to shortchange Fife, who was outstanding in allowing just a single run while pitching into the sixth, and the power duo of Adrian Gonzalez & Scott Van Slyke. Each homered, and Gonzalez teamed with Ramon Hernandez to make a lovely pickoff of Chris Denorfia in the fourth inning.
I should talk more about how great Gonzalez has been and how surprising Van Slyke has been — if this were any other day and everyone was healthy, we might be talking about how Andre Ethier was the fifth best outfielder on this team, even if that’s more than a little premature — but I’m sure they’d understand. This day always belonged to Puig with expectations that could never be met, and somehow he didn’t disappoint. Now watch that throw 1,000 more times like I will.