LOS ANGELES -- It would've just been a fine defensive play that would have been forgotten had the Dodgers lost Saturday night. But with the team mounting a comeback in the ninth inning, Matt Kemp's play in center field to throw out Yadier Molina at third base proved to be a difference-maker in their walk-off, 4-3 win.
After getting choked up Saturday night when talking about it, manager Don Mattingly couldn't help himself again Sunday morning as he was still in awe over the defensive gem.
Mattingly thinks it could be the sort of play that gets both Kemp and the team going.
"It's total, all-out effort of not wanting to lose a game," the skipper said. "If he gets to third base, we probably don't win that game."
With nobody out in the ninth inning, Kemp crashed into the center-field wall after narrowly missing a Molina deep fly ball. He picked himself up and raced back to throw out Molina with an off-balanced throw.
The play came minutes after Kemp ended the eighth inning with a groundout after striking out in his first three at-bats. The center fielder is just 2-for-14 since sitting out the final two games against San Francisco last week, which came as a result of a pair of crashes into the wall at the end of August in Colorado.
"It moves me," Mattingly said. "It's one of the best plays I think I've ever seen considering all the circumstances of him hitting the wall before, him having a bad night, he's been struggling, we're down a run. To me, that's greatness, I love it."
As for his offensive struggles, Mattingly on Saturday before the game considered giving the slugger a mental day off Sunday with a day game. But after a play like the one he made on Molina, Mattingly wanted to keep him in the lineup.