Will Smith was 0 for 11 with four strikeouts in the postseason entering Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
Then he had the game of his life against the San Diego Padres.
Smith went 5 for 6 with two doubles and three runs batted in Thursday in the Dodgers’ 12-3 win. It’s the most hits in a single playoff game by any Dodger, and it helped turn the series-clinching victory into a bloodbath.
The Dodgers’ Will Smith singles in the eighth inning of Game 3 of their National League Division Series against the Padres on Thursday night in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado, left, tags out Los Angeles Dodgers’ Will Smith (16), who tried to advance on a fielder’s choice by Cody Belliner, during the second inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
SoundThe gallery will resume inseconds
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager (5) advances to third on a single by Will Smith, as San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado (13) tries to tag during the fourth inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Will Smith smiles as he is interviewed after defeating the San Diego Padres 12-3 in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. Smith had 5 hits in the game as the Dodgers swept the Padres. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after hitting a double during the second inning against the San Diego Padres in Game Three of the National League Division Series at Globe Life Field on October 08, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Dodgers’ Will Smith signals to his teammates after hitting a double during the second inning of Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Padres on Thursday night in Arlington, Texas. Smith had five hits in a 12-3 win. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Smith couldn’t recall the last time he collected five hits in a game, but it didn’t happen during any of his five professional seasons.
“As long as I’m finding good quality at-bats, good quality contact, I’m happy,” Smith said. “I never really got down on myself for not getting hits. It was nice to get some hits tonight.”
Ask his teammates, and Smith’s breakout was just a matter of time.
“His 0-for-11 was about as good as anyone else’s first two games in the series,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “He was hitting the ball hard all over the place. He didn’t change a thing, just found some holes. He hits the ball harder than anyone when they throw the ball in the strike zone.”
Batting fifth, Smith set the tone with a double against Padres starter Adrian Morejon in the second inning. In the third inning, Smith struck out swinging on a Craig Stammen curveball.
In the fourth inning, Smith drove in Mookie Betts with a single against left-hander Tim Hill, padding the Dodgers’ lead to 7-2.
In the sixth inning, Smith singled against right-hander Matt Strahm.
In the eighth inning, Smith singled again, this time against left-hander Drew Pomeranz to load the bases.
Smith capped his monster game with a bases-loaded double in the ninth inning against Trevor Rosenthal. Two more runs scored. At 10-3, the outcome was all but final. So was Smith’s place in history.
Only nine players have ever collected five hits in a playoff game. Smith is the youngest, at 25 years old.
“He’s well beyond his years,” Turner said of Smith. “You don’t think of him as a young guy, the way he puts together his at-bats, game plans, and has an idea of what he wants to do every time he steps into the box.”
Albert Pujols had the last five-hit postseason game, in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series. Carl Crawford (2008 ALCS), Derek Jeter (2006 ALCS), Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS), Mike Stanley (1999 ALDS), Marquis Grissom (1994 NLDS), Paul Molitor (1982 World Series) and Paul Blair (1969 ALCS) also accomplished the feat.
For comparison’s sake, the man Smith replaced as the Dodgers’ starting catcher, Yasmani Grandal, had eight hits in 75 postseason at-bats with L.A. Smith had one hit in 13 at-bats during a five-game NLDS last year.
During the 2020 regular season, Smith batted .289 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 37 games.
“He’s been great for us all year,” Dodger outfielder AJ Pollock said. “You know baseball. He’s had some really good at-bats the whole series. All of a sudden they come in bunches. He does such a great job of controlling the strike zone, putting good swings on it. He’s huge. We’re going to need him going forward.”
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 9, 2020
Have a night, Will Smith!
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 9, 2020
Read more about Dodgers’ Will Smith sets postseason record with five-hit game This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed
Powered by WPeMatico