This is not about a first impression. This is about an October impression.
That did not stop Brian Dozier from making a variety of impressions in his Dodgers debut on Wednesday.
The first time he touched the ball — on the very first play of the game — he made a throwing error that turned a triple into a Little League home run. The first time he stepped to bat, he struck out by swinging at a pitch out of the strike zone.
The next time he stepped to bat, he swung at the first pitch and crushed it, 413 feet worth of crush, a drive deep beyond the fence in center field. Dozier circled the bases and returned to the dugout for a hearty round of handshakes and hugs.
And, because this is Hollywood’s team, Dozier took a curtain call — with an assist by Enrique Hernandez, who had to push him up the dugout steps. In his Dodgers debut, Dozier finished a triple shy of the cycle.
But, because this is not actually Hollywood, Dozier did not deliver the winning run. That honor went to Yasmani Grandal, who launched his second home run of the night in the 10th inning, powering the Dodgers to a 6-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Dodgers ended a 24-hour exile from first place in the National League West, climbing into a tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the division lead.
The winning rally started with a single from Matt Kemp, ending an 0-for-26 skid.
“Did you get the ball?” closer Kenley Jansen jokingly asked.
Grandal followed with the walk-off home run. He leads all major league catchers with 19 home runs — on Wednesday, he batted cleanup for the team with the most home runs in the NL but he said he did not particularly care that no catcher had more homers than he does.
“Home runs don’t really mean anything, especially nowadays,” Grandal said. “There could be guys who have five homers and are considered the best in the game. So it doesn’t really matter.
“Day in and day out, the main thing for me is: When I’m behind the plate, are we winning games? If we’re not, then we’ve got to change something.”
The Dodgers’ winning percentage is .550 overall, .562 when Grandal starts.
The victory did not come easily. In the seventh inning, the Dodgers broke a 2-2 tie when Yasiel Puig singled home Dozier, a feat Puig commemorated by shimmying upon his arrival at first base. Hernandez then pulled the squeeze play from the old-school bag of tricks, dropping a nice bunt to score Chris Taylor and give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead with six outs to go.
The lead lasted one out.
Dozier was not alone in repenting for his struggles. In the third inning, Grandal failed to locate a loose ball near home plate, allowing Lorenzo Cain to score from second base on a wild pitch.
In the fifth, Grandal terminated a perfect game, no-hitter and shutout all on the same swing. After Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson had retired the first 12 batters in order, Grandal homered to lead off the fifth.
Dozier sounded pumped about just about everything, including the ballpark dimensions. At his old home of Target Field, the center-field fence is 404 feet from home plate.
“I love only 395 to center,” he said.
Dozier is the new star. Machado is the bigger new star. Kemp and Jansen and Puig might be the most popular stars. Justin Turner embraces the community. Clayton Kershaw remains the greatest star of all.
Grandal can get lost in the shuffle, in large part by choice.
“He’s a blue-collar guy,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of self-promotion with him.”
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin