There are no words to describe what Dodgers RHP Phil Bickford did on Monday night.
Bickford entered in the 10th inning of a 7-7 game that never should have gotten that far anyway. Dodgers relievers blew multiple leads late in the game, including the always reliable Evan Phillips getting his first blown save of the season in the ninth.
Either way, Bickford was tasked with the daunting responsibility of pitching in extra innings, knowing there was no one behind him in the bullpen. Brusdar Graterol and Victor Gonzalez were the only two relievers left, but both were considered “off limits” for Monday’s game. It was going to be Bickford’s game, for better or for worse.
It seemed to be the latter early on, as Bickford quickly loaded the bases, and then walked in a run to make it an 8-7 ball game with no outs. But then, with a little help from home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, Bickford turned into prime Nolan Ryan.
Bickord ended up having to pitch the 11th, too. And then, also the 12th. Bickford ended up throwing a career-high in innings and pitches, and single-handedly kept the Dodgers in this game.
Finally, in the bottom of the 12th when Trayce Thompson drew a walk-off walk, Bickford and the Dodgers got the win.
After the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts could not say enough nice things about Bickford and his incredible, gutsy, heroic performance.
“I can’t say enough about Phil,” Roberts said. “He gave us as good of an outing from him that you’ll ever see. Everyone in that room knows he really cares. He cares more about being a good teammate than being a good baseball player, truth be told. He left it all out there and we need every bit of it.”
Bickford truly put the Dodgers on his back in this performance, knowing it would be entirely up to him to keep them in that game. And after the rough start, he settled in to have as dominant an outing as he’s ever had.
Overall, Bickford went three full innings and allowed one run, one hit walk and four walks while striking out four. Remember, the extra innings rule has a runner start on second every inning — so Bickford allowing just one run in three innings is about as dominant as you can be in extras.
Bickford was coming off six days rest, and almost went as long as Dodgers starter Noah Syndergaard went that game. He’s probably about to get another long rest before we see him again, but May 15 of the 2023 season will always and forever be known as the Phil Bickford game.
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