Dodgers catcher hits go-ahead, 3-run blast to top Nats
By Jack Baer
LOS ANGELES -- Yasmani Grandal let out a scream as he rounded first base after hitting the homer that supplied all of the Dodgers' runs in a 3-2 win over the Nationals on Tuesday night. While that could be seen as a sudden flood of emotion, Grandal said it was more a revelation of an anger that's there every time he plays.
"I don't let it show at times, but I play with a lot of anger," Grandal said. "Anger that's basically pointed to the other team. When I'm calling pitches, when I'm making plays, when I'm at the plate, I do have a lot of anger curled inside. I just kind of keep it as mellow as I can."
Grandal's had plenty to be angry about, too. He entered Tuesday's game hitting .180/.303/.333. He started the season on the disabled list with a forearm injury and was dinged up even when he was playing. He said after the game he had only been feeling 100 percent since the team's series in San Francisco a couple of weekends ago.
"It's a grind for Yazzy," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He's doing a great job behind the plate and that's priority No. 1. Offensively, he's been squaring a lot of balls up but maybe right at guys and he's getting frustrated."
Grandal said after the game his batted-ball exit velocity has kept him confident through his struggles, estimating that he had six or seven balls hit at least 100 mph in the last series against Milwaukee that were turned into outs by good fielding and bad luck.
"I've been hitting the ball pretty hard the past couple of weeks," Grandal said. "I feel like this whole month I've been hitting the ball pretty well. I just haven't been able to get in the air. This game is about inches or angles. When I look up and I hit a ball hard to straightaway center and over 100 miles per hour, that's what I'm trying to do."
To that point, the only significant offense the Dodgers had mustered against Tanner Roark were a pair of two-out doubles that were immediately negated by outs in the next at-bat. Grandal had been 0-for-2 with outs coming on the ground against Roark.
"The first two at-bats, he basically got me with two sinkers down and away," Grandal said. "Definitely dotted on the outer half. Props to him for that. As a catcher, you kind of admire that, you want your pitchers to make pitches just like that. I was trying to figure out a way where I could get the ball in the air, especially in that situation. I don't want to put the ball in the ground. He was thinking the same thing, 'I've got him out with two ground balls with the same pitch, why not?' I would probably have done the same thing if I was behind home plate."
Thanks to Grandal's anticipation, the Dodgers got the win and their 12th straight game with a home run, a feat not accomplished by the team since June 2002.
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.