Ryan Pepiot wasn’t supposed to be flirting with history Thursday night.
When the week began, he wasn’t even supposed to be pitching for the Dodgers on this trip in the first place.
But just as the team’s season was turned on its head Monday, when news broke that staff ace Julio Urías had been arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence, so too were its plans for Pepiot.
Not only did the rookie right-hander rejoin the team on short notice to start in Urías’ place. But, in an auspicious October audition in the Dodgers’ 10-0 win, he delivered seven dominant innings in a shutout outing — one that briefly seemed destined for a legendary ending.
Unfortunately, Pepiot’s big night ended with Mookie Betts leaving loanDepot Park on crutches after he fouled a ball off of his foot in the eighth inning. X-rays on Betts’ foot were negative, according to a person with knowledge of the situation unauthorized to speak publicly. He will be re-evaluated Friday.
When Pepiot took the mound at the start of the seventh, he had retired all 18 Marlins batters who had come to the plate.
With his pitch count under 70, he had an unlikely perfect game squarely in his sights.
For a brief moment, it looked like he might get there, too.
And, with veteran Josh Bell facing a two-strike count in the next at-bat, there suddenly appeared to be few obstacles left in Pepiot’s way.
On his 80th throw of the night, however, Pepiot unleashed a changeup that Bell got just enough of. With a flailing swing, the Marlins designated hitter sent a two-hopper whizzing past Pepiot — who stabbed for a ball that was just out of his reach — and up the middle for a single.
Pepiot’s first reaction was disappointment, hanging his head as Bell pulled into second base.
But then, the 26-year-old right-hander looked up and saw the large contingent of traveling Dodger fans, as well as every one of his teammates in the dugout, were standing in applause of his awe-inspiring display.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.