Before Enrique Hernandez lofted the game-winning single and played hero in the Dodgers’ 12th walk-off win this season Thursday night, Corey Seager put the Toronto Blue Jays on the ropes.
Seager ambushed Blue Jays right-hander Derek Law, smashing a line drive down the right-field line. The hit scored two runs to tie the game. Seager ended up at second with a double. Three pitches later, he slid headfirst across home plate for the winning run.
The double was Seager’s eighth in 10 games. During the stretch, he went 14 for 40 with three home runs. The sample size is miniature but promising. Seager was looking like the Seager who was on fire for three weeks before a strained hamstring knocked him out for a month.
“Just reps, figuring things out again,” Seager said. “Getting to a place where you can repeat it and keep repeating it, basically.”
Seager, 25, began the season as somewhat of a question mark. He was healthy but had effectively missed all of last season. He underwent Tommy John surgery and, capitalizing on the time, had hip surgery to repair a lingering problem. He started this season like rust was a factor. He was batting .225 with a .667 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 40 games through May 11 before finding his form. Over the next 26 games, he batted .354 with a 1.056 OPS.
Then he pulled up lame running to third in the ninth inning against the Angels on June 11. He didn’t return until after the All-Star break. It was another obstacle in this two-season stretch.
“It’s been a challenge, for sure, through ups and downs,” Seager said. “Figuring out new body, new things, figuring out not playing for an entire year. All the routine stuff, it’s just been a learning curve.”
Over the last two weeks, the Seager of old, the National League rookie of the year and two-time All-Star, has resurfaced. He is a lethal weapon the Dodgers have not needed to run away with the NL West. Barring another setback, they will have him when it matters most, once the calendar flips to October and the Dodgers are 11 wins away from a World Series title.
“On the offensive side, he’s staying in the strike zone,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And when a guy that has his ability to look over a baseball when he’s swinging at strikes, this is what he’s going to do.”
Hill on the hill
Rich Hill is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session Saturday since landing on the injured list with a forearm strain June 20. Hill said he will throw two more bullpens and a live batting practice session before being reinstated. Hill estimated that will be in approximately two weeks.
Because the minor league season will be over by then, Hill will return to pitch with the Dodgers rather than in a rehab setting. He said he will use September like spring training, steadily building up with each outing. He and the Dodgers believe Hill will have enough time to accumulate stamina to start games in the postseason.
May gets another start
Roberts said Dustin May will start Monday against San Diego. May will serve as the Dodgers’ sixth starter as they navigate games 16 days in a row. The 21-year-old rookie’s first three career appearances were as a starter before he pitched out of the bullpen Sunday at Atlanta. He allowed a go-ahead grand slam in the Dodgers’ loss.
Players’ Weekend uniforms
The Dodgers and New York Yankees, whose uniforms are perhaps the most iconic in baseball, will not wear their classic threads this weekend. Instead, they will wear monochromatic jerseys for Major League Baseball’s Players’ Weekend. The Yankees will wear all-black uniforms. The Dodgers will go all white, though pitchers must wear black caps to avoid giving them an advantage.
“I feel like this isn’t necessarily the best weekend for us because with this matchup, to have them in their uniforms and us in ours, that would be cool,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Roberts compared the uniforms to what he wore to the last ugly sweater party he attended.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess it’s good for the game.”