Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
After a strong showing last season and again in Spring Training and Summer Camp this year, Edwin Rios earned a spot on the Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day roster. Often lauded for his power, Rios recently drew praise from manager Dave Roberts for making strides defensively.
However, on Wednesday night it again was Rios’ bat that proved key for the Dodgers. Tied with the Houston Astros in extra innings, Rios led off the 13th with what proved to be a game-winning home run.
The Dodgers played their first extra-innings game this season, which now features placing a runner on second base. L.A. took a lead in the 11th on Mookie Betts’ two-out RBI double but were unable to hold serve in the bottom half of the inning.
Prior to Rios’ home run, the Betts double was the Dodgers’ only hit in extras. “Just try to hit a ball on the ground to the right side to get the runner over,” Rios said of his approach. “Try to look for the ball down and not chase anything up.
“I was able to work a pretty good count, get my pitch and do some damage.”
Rios first entered the game when he pinch-hit for Terrance Gore in the 11th inning. The speedster had replaced AJ Pollock on the basepaths in the eighth. Astros relief pitcher Cy Sneed got Rios to strike out swinging in their first head-to-head meeting.
“Just a little late. I was trying to time the pitcher, and I was a little late on his heater,” Rios said of that at-bat. “In the second at-bat, just tried to be more on time and get on top of the baseball. I was able to make it happen, so I’m excited about that.”
Strikeouts have been Rios’ biggest weakness at the plate, though he’s largely dismissed the idea of needing to overhaul his philosophy. “Once I’m in the box, it’s kind of a blackout moment,” Rios said.
“I try to stay with my approach and try not to think of striking out. I try to take my swings and make something good happen. I was able to do that.”
Effective rule change?
Although the new rule MLB has implemented for extra innings this season is in effort to prevent games from running long, which would tax pitching staffs, it didn’t seem to have much impact for the Dodgers and Astros.
“It’s weird. It’s the same thing. We played how many innings tonight? It’s almost the same thing,” Rios said. “Extra innings are extra innings. Guy on second, it’s easy for us to score a run and it can also be easy for them to score a run.”
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