Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Matt Kemp blasted a two-run, 12th inning, walk-off homer to beat the Philadelphia Phillies on July 18th. A walk-off home run is a home run, hit in the bottom of the ninth (or extra) inning, with the batting team tied or behind the fielding team, putting the batting team ahead of the fielding team, ending the game immediately. After the game-winning play, the players literally "walk off" the field, as the game is over.
After Kemp's dramatic walk-off homer, I wanted to take a look back through Dodgers history at five of the greatest walk-off homers. Homers that won key games for the team, in that dramatic fashion. Here are the Los Angeles Dodgers' top five walk-off home run plays:
Kirk Gibson - Game 1 1988 World Series
It was like a movie, bottom of the ninth, Game 1 of the 1988 World Series with the Dodgers behind by one run with two outs, against the Oakland A's. In the game on October 15, 1988, with a full count, Gibson connected into the right-field stands to put the Dodgers ahead and win the game, 5-4.
Steve Finley - NL West title game - 2004
Another great Dodger moment was against the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers rallied from a 3-0 score going into the bottom of the ninth to tie the score. In this great game on October 2, 2004, Steve Finley cracked a grand slam to win the game, which gave the Dodgers the NL West title.
Nomar Garciaparra - Four home run game against Padres - 2006
In one of the greatest Dodger games I've ever seen in person, the team was behind 9-5 going into the bottom of the ninth, against the San Diego Padres on September 18, 2006. When suddenly, Jeff Kent, JD Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson each hit a home run, four homers on four consecutive pitches. But it was Nomar Garciaparra who knocked in the walk-off homer in the bottom of the tenth inning to win the game.
Russell Martin - Tie-breaking home run against the Giants - 2006
This was another game I remember watching. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants have a long-standing rivalry dating back to the days when both teams were in New York. The games are always close and filled with emotion. On August 13, 2006 at Dodger Stadium, Dodgers catcher Russell Martin hit a solo walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning to break a 0-0 tie and win the game for Dodger Blue.
Matt Kemp - 12th inning shot against the Phillies - 2012
I think this shot, to win the game against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 18th, was important as the Dodgers have been struggling recently, especially with the 50-game, injury-related absence by Kemp. Even since his return, things have not been steady, and have not matched the positive, winning momentum the team has had since the start of the season. After a close game, I think the walk-off homer by Kemp in the bottom of the 12th inning really has energized the team, leading to two victories against the New York Mets in the days after the Phillies win.
Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia, which didn't make being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan easy. He has lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, now able to follow the Dodgers openly and attends games frequently. You can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman.
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