Dramatic walk-off home runs. Unbelievable catches. Incredible milestones reached. Improbable comebacks. Even though the Dodgers didn’t repeat as Champions in 2021, it was still a year jam-packed with memorable moments. We count down the top plays from the Dodgers’ 2021 season.
Honorable mention: Gavin Lux’s 3-run home run vs. Mariners
Gavin Lux crushed a clutch 3-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning to lead the Dodgers to a big comeback win over the Mariners. LA had lost 15 of their last 20 games and had been 0-9 on the year when trailing after the seventh inning before Lux’s two out, 3-run blast propelled them to a 6-4 win over Seattle.
11) Max Muncy walk-off 3-run bomb in the first half finale
Max Muncy sent the Dodgers into the All-Star break with a towering 3-run walk-off shot that gave LA a 7-4 win over the Diamondbacks and Muncy’s third career walk-off home run.
10) AJ Pollock robs Manny Machado
The Dodgers were clinging onto a slim 1-0 lead at Petco Park in San Diego and with one on and one out, Manny Machado appeared to have gone yard off Julio Urias which would have given the Padres a 2-1 lead. That’s when AJ Pollock timed his leap perfectly and robbed Manny Machado of a go-ahead home run in what was one of the catches of the year in Major League Baseball.
9) Mookie Magic
With the Dodgers up 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth and the tying run at second base, Tommy Pham hit a line drive off Victor González into right-center field that looked like it was destined to drop for a game-tying two out base hit. Mookie Betts had other ideas. The five-time Gold Glove Award winner laid out to make a miraculous diving catch to end the game. According to Statcast, the catch probability stood at just 10% with Mookie having to travel exactly 52 ft. in 3.3 seconds to make the nearly impossible grab.
8) Cody Bellinger Walk-off vs. Cubs
Bellinger’s 2021 season had been marred by injuries, having played in only 20 of the Dodgers’ first 77 games after suffering a hairline fracture to his left fibula in just the team’s fourth game of the season that left him sidelined for nearly two months. Bellinger returned to the lineup for 12 games before suffering a left hamstring injury that sent him back to the IL. With the bases empty, in the bottom of the ninth with the Dodgers and Cubs even at 2, the former National League MVP unloaded on a 3-1 cutter from Keegan Thompson that traveled 422 feet over the wall in center field to give LA its first walk-off win of the season.
7) Max Scherzer’s debut vs. Astros
The Houston Astros had already made a trip to Dodger Stadium after being implicated in the sign-stealing scandal that rocked baseball in 2020, but the attendance that day was thousands of cardboard cutouts instead of 50,000+ angry Dodgers fans. The Dodgers dropped the first game of the two-game set 3-0 nothing to Houston. But in the second of the two game set, LA’s big trade deadline acquisition, Max Scherzer, made his much anticipated Dodger Debut. The three-time Cy Young Award winner did not disappoint, tying his season-high with 109 pitches, giving up two runs on five hits with ten strikeouts. After punching out Chas McCormick to end the top half of the seventh, a sold-out crowd of 52,724 fans at Dodger Stadium rose to their feet to give Scherzer a standing ovation and the future Hall of Famer emerged from the Dodgers’ dugout to oblige the Dodger faithful after receiving the first curtain call of his career.
6) Max Scherzer Immaculate Inning/3,000th career strikeout
Max Scherzer threw his third career immaculate inning en route to throwing his 3,000th career strikeout. Needing six Ks on the day to enter the ultra-exclusive 3,000-strikeout club, Scherzer fanned Eric Hosmer for the second out of the fifth inning to reach the milestone. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer wasn’t done yet, as he took a perfect game into the 8th where Eric Hosmer broke up Scherzer’s perfect game bid after roping a double to right.
5) Will Smith Walk-off Giants
The only thing sweeter than beating the rival Giants is doing it in comeback, walk-off fashion. The Dodgers did just that after Will Smith’s 3-run bomb down a run in the bottom of the ninth gave LA a much-needed win over their bitter rivals.
4) 1+4 Comeback win vs. Padres
Back in 2006 the Dodgers famously hit four consecutive home runs in the ninth to even the score at nine vs. the Padres and then Nomar Garciaparra provided the exclamation point with a two-run walk-off shot in the 10th to give LA one of the most improbable wins in franchise history. Fast forward to 2021, where the Dodgers found themselves in a similar predicament. Trailing 9-5 in the seventh inning, Mookie Betts hit a solo shot to make it 9-6 and then in the following inning, the Dodgers offense erupted for four home runs capped off by Corey Seager’s 2-run homer that put LA up for good at 11-9. The thrilling comeback victory served as another heartbreaking loss for the Padres at the hands of the Boys in Blue.
3) Cody Bellinger 3-run, game-tying home run vs Braves in NLCS Game 3
With the Dodgers season on life support down 0-2 to the Braves in the NLCS and five outs away from being down 0-3, Cody Bellinger crushed a 96-mph fastball at the letters from Luke Jackson over the wall in right-center to tie things at 5, in a game that LA would go on to win 6-5. The Dodgers had previously been 0-81 in postseason games in which they trailed by at least three runs in the eighth inning or later. Yes, LA would go on to lose the series, but we’ll never forget the indelible moment and how the raucous crowd at Dodger Stadium was shaking after Belli’s clutch Bomb.
2) Chris Taylor’s Wild Card Game Walk-off home run vs. Cardinals
Yes, you could easily make a strong case that this should be number one considering that Chris Taylor’s two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth sent the Dodgers to the NLDS for their first ever postseason meeting with the rival Giants. Taylor became the first player to hit a walk-off home run in an elimination game since Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays in the 2016 AL Wild Card Game and the first player in franchise history to hit a walk-off home run in a winner-take-all postseason game, making it a worthy contender for Dodgers moment of the year. Taylor had been struggling through a rough 8-for-72 slump while dealing with a neck issue before his historic blast gave LA a 3-1 Wild Card Game win over one of the league’s hottest teams in the second half. The red-hot Redbirds’ second half record of 46-26 included a franchise-record 17-game winning streak. However, the NLDS wasn’t in the Cards for St. Louis after Chris Taylor’s clutch home run not only ended their season but launched the birth of ‘Oc-Taylor’.
1) Dodgers beat Giants in NLDS Game 5
As sweet as Chris Taylor’s walk-off home run was in the previous round, beating a 107-win Giants team that had ended the Dodgers eight consecutive NL West division title streak just weeks before was even sweeter. Not only did the Boys in Blue come back and win the series after trailing two games to one. They did it in dramatic fashion. Cody Bellinger drove in what would turn out to be the game-winning run after his 1-out base hit scored Justin Turner from second to give LA a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers then deployed Max Scherzer out of the bullpen to get the final three outs to take the winner-take-all Game 5 on the road in San Francisco, *Chefs Kiss*. For the first time ever, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants faced off in the postseason and LA won the series and celebrated on their field in front of their fans. For now, Dodgers’ fans hold the postseason bragging rights over San Francisco. For a fanbase that has historically suffered so much heartbreak at the hands of the orange and black, Dodgers fans can rejoice knowing they’re a perfect 1-0 all-time against the Giants when it matters most and that is why finishing the job vs. SF is the Dodgers moment of the year.
What did we miss? Drop your favorite moments in the comments below!