The Magic Number is down to 5. The Rockies do not look like they are going away, so the Dodgers are going to need to win this race. I am more than fine with that. On a night that showcased another of those all RHH lineups against a very good LHSP, the players came through when they needed to. The team scored 7 runs with only one solo HR, so they actually had to hit with runners in scoring position to win this one. 4-16 with WRISP is not great, but it was enough last night.
Robbie Ray was his normal effectively wild self, throwing 100 pitches in 5 innings. You need to get to Ray early because he gets better as the game goes on. And when he only faces RHH, he can get into one of his grooves. The Dodgers had him on the ropes in the 1st but Matt Kemp was unable to get the big hit with the bases full. Ray allowed 2 hits and 1walk over the next four innings. Fortunately, one of those hits was a David Freese HR which temporarily tied the score at 2 in the 5th. Freese had both RBI’s against Ray. I think he has sewn up the RHH bench role for the playoffs, if there was any doubt.
Puig and Muncy stayed hot in their pinch-hitting roles, but it was the Manny Machado ground out to SS Michael Ahmed in the 7th that put the Dodgers in front to stay. That was the key AB for me. It proves that one does not have to get a HR or even a hit to score a run with a runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs. MAKE CONTACT and good things may happen. I give Machado tremendous credit for that. It is not easy to get the ball in the air against Ziegler, and Machado did not try to do too much with the pitch and made good contact in the hole. No chance for a DP, and a run scored. Tremendous piece of hitting against one of the best ground ball pitchers in the game.
Yoshihisa Hirano has been very effective against the Dodgers in 7 previous games; 5 scoreless. He did allow a HR to Forsythe on April 2, and one to Muncy on April 30, but nothing since. Two hits, two walks, and two wild pitches scored two runs in the decisive 9th, and a Manny Machado double scored a third. Machado and Freese came up big last night. Kemp had a tough night leaving the bases loaded twice, but he has come up big recently and not every night can a batter be a hero.
On yet another night where we are reminded that Clayton Kershaw may be good, but he is not the Clayton Kershaw most of us have followed for the past 11 years. He is stubborn and instead of trying to pitch around Marte (who obviously had his number last night), he continued to challenge him and came up second best each time. Triple, HR, single for 3 RBI’s against Kershaw. Marte was 1-13 against Kershaw before last night, so Kershaw had to try to prove who was better, and he came up short. The Dodgers need to get this Division wrapped up before next Sunday because Kershaw is due to pitch on Sunday, and as Dodgerrick pointed out, #22 has not been the Ace in must win games. By the way, I am glad Dodgerrick is back after several games away. He keeps most of us with “rose colored glasses” (as he likes to say) honest and always thinking.
Yes, Jansen gave up the HR to Pollock in the 9th, but he K’s two Dodger killers, Goldy and Descalso, before getting Peralta to end the game. With a 4-run lead, throw strikes. If you are around the plate, good hitters are going to get a HR every now and then. But before Doc called on Jansen, it was Ferguson, Alexander, and Maeda that got the Dodgers to the 9th with a lead. It sure looks like Doc is not afraid to call on Ferguson in a high leverage situation. He is relying on his fastball too much, so he is going to need to at least show his off-speed pitch at times. Does not have to be for strikes, but a ML hitter can hit a 95+ MPH fastball, especially if that is all they see and can time it. He is 22 so he is still not yet fully developed as a “pitcher”.
Ferguson can learn from Archie Bradley. Bradley threw 13 pitches last night. He sprinkled in three knuckle curves in with ten 95+ fastballs. Bradley tried to be a SP with two pitches but has now found a home as one of the best any point in the game high leverage situation relievers. If the DBacks actually find a closer, they can have a bullpen like last year’s Indians bullpen with Miller and Allen.
I am not going to be tempted into talking about next year until this season is over, but there are a lot of questions that are percolating. What we Dodger fans need to see is a WS victory this year so next year isn’t so critical.
Tonight, Walker Buehler goes for the Dodgers, and the only DBacks batter to get a hit against him is Goldy who is 2-3. He started against the DBacks on September 2, going 6.2 IP and allowing 1 run on 2 hits, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts. He left tied at 1 apiece. This was the game that Matt Kemp won with a 2-run walk off double against Archie Bradley after the DBacks got the lead in the 9th on a Descalso HR.
RHP Matt Koch goes for the DBacks who last pitched against LAD on May 1. He went 5.0 IP allowing 4 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 3 BB, and 3 K. CT3 will undoubtedly be back in the leadoff role tonight and was 2-3 against him in that May 1 game. Cody Bellinger hit a 2 run HR and Alex Verdugo had a double. In that game, Kershaw started and left the game after 6.0 IP and the lead, only to see Adam Liberatore give up 2 runs on two singles and a triple without getting an out, and the DBacks went on to win.
The Dodgers just have to keep on winning, and it will not matter what the Rockies do. I do not want the WC game, so they have to hold off the Rockies, who will not go quietly. The Brewers are making the NL Central a race as well. They are only 1.5 games behind the Cubs, and the Cubs and Brewers face each other on the final weekend. Even though I do not want the WC, I do want the playoffs, so I am hopeful that the Brewers can finish off the Cardinals in the next two games. In the race for home field between the NL West winner and Braves, the Braves get to joy to face both Thor and deGrom in the next two games.