Facing a two-and-a-half game deficit in the National League Wild Card race, the San Francisco Giants (76-76) are entering a crucial series. The Los Angeles Dodgers (93-58) have already clinched a postseason berth, but they can push their divisional foe's season closer towards the coffin with a dominant showing. And yet, the rivalry felt insignificant in the moments that preceded Thursday night's game.
LA put a smile on all the fans in attendance at Dodger Stadium and those watching at home, when they elected to have pitcher Brusdar Graterol's mother, Ysmalia, throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The two recently enjoyed an emotional reunion in the airport after being separated for the last seven years. The former softball star added to the whirlwind week by throwing a strike from the mound, according to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.
Ysmalia, a former softball star, fired a strike – from the mound, no less.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) September 22, 2023
The star-studded Dodgers can be polarizing, as are many perennial powerhouses, but this gesture ought to unite baseball fans everywhere. Restrictions prevented Graterol's mother from departing their native Venezuela to visit her son in the United States. She finally got to see him represent LA on the mound earlier in the week, but this time Ysmalia got to join in on the action.
Perhaps this entire experience will be the fuel Brusdar Graterol needs for the upcoming postseason run. The right-handed reliever is putting the finishing touches on a career season, posting a 1.26 ERA while holding batters to a measly .307 slugging percentage in 65 appearances in 2023.
In a bullpen that usually comes with some October question marks, the 25-year-old has earned manager Dave Roberts' implicit trust. And the Dodgers organization has surely secured Graterol's after giving his mother this big moment.