Diamondbacks @ Dodgers Oct. 7, 2017: NLDS Game 2

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

Last night was fun, wasn’t it? Stressful, but fun. The Dodgers look to continue the postseason party and take a 2-0 lead in the NLDS when they take on the D-backs again Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

The series opener didn’t go exactly according to plan for Dave Roberts and the Dodgers, but the supposed “underdogs” displayed their baseball prowess nevertheless in the 9-5 victory. It’s almost as if this Dodgers team was the best in baseball this year despite not being perfect.

History is on the Dodgers’ side. Since the inception of MLB’s best-of-five division series in 1995, 63 of the 88 contests have gone to whichever team won the first game. Game 1 winners have had a 72 percent chance of advancing to the NLCS.

D-backs
Dodgers
6:08 PM TBS
Los Angeles
LF
Peralta
CF
Taylor
CF
Pollock
SS
Seager
1B
Goldschmidt
3B
Turner
RF
Martinez
1B
Bellinger
2B
Descalso
LF
Hernandez
C
Iannetta
2B
Forsythe
3B
Lamb C Barnes
SS
Marte
RF
Puig
P
Ray (L)
P
Hill(L)

Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32 ERA, 3.72 FIP) looks to forget Game 2 of the 2016 NLDS, a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Nationals that saw Hill lose his command after the third inning. The veteran left-hander knows very well that postseason baseball is fickle and tides can turn in one game, one inning or even one pitch. Hill makes his fifth career postseason start (1-2, 4.50 ERA) and fourth in Dodger Blue. The great thing about Hill is that he’ll leave everything on the mound, as he’s always fired up with emotion and high leg kicks. He only made 25 starts for the Dodgers this year due to injury, but he struck out 166 batters in 135 2/3 innings with a WHIP of 1.09. Hill put together a solid second half, going 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA and a 4.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Hill has struggled against Arizona this year, going 0-3 with a 5.03 ERA in four starts. Rich allowed 11 runs on 17 hits including four home runs in 19 2/3 innings to the D-backs this year. Overall in his career, he’s 1-5 with a 4.78 ERA against the Snakes in nine starts. Chris Iannetta, Jake Lamb, A.J. Pollock and J.D. Martinez have all hit homers off Hill already this season. Iannetta and Lamb are both in the Arizona lineup for Game 2.

Despite having one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, the D-backs were at a bit of a disadvantage going into the NLDS after having to use starter Robbie Ray (15-5, 2.89 ERA, 3.72 FIP) in the Wild Card Game against the Rockies on Wednesday in a 2 1/3-inning 34-pitch relief appearance. The Snakes also had to go to Zack Godley early after Taijuan Walker struggled in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday, allowing four runs on four hits on 48 pitches in the first inning.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo‘s decision to start Ray after his Wild Card relief appearance wasn’t that difficult considering Ray said he felt good after, and he has pitched dominantly against the Dodgers this season. The left-hander has been really good this year, striking out 218 batters in 162 innings (32.8 K%). Against L.A., Ray has been even better. He went 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 53 strikeouts in five starts and 31 2/3 innings against the Dodgers. In his three starts at Dodger Stadium this season, Ray was 1-0 with a 0.92 ERA 37 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. The southpaw Snake struck out 53 L.A. batters out of 129 faced (41%). In fact, he beat the Dodgers in two consecutive starts August 30 and September 4 when he allowed only one run on seven hits with 24 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. So, yeah. The Dodgers have their work cut out for them.

Ray is a tough nut to crack, but the Dodgers have dramatically improved their offense against left-hand pitching this year. They had the second-best OPS (.789) and third-best OBP (.342) and SLG (.447) in the NL against southpaws during the regular season. In case you forgot, they were dead least in the NL in almost every offensive category vs. LHP last season.

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Enrique Hernandez gets the start in left field against Ray and bats fifth, but Roberts hasn’t given up on Curtis just yet. Curtis Granderson went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Game 1. Looking ahead, Chase Utley will get a start at second base in Game 3.

Patrick Corbin will potentially start Game 4 (if necessary) for the D-backs.

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It was a great opening postseason act by the Dodgers on Friday night with lead performances by Justin Turner (five RBI), Corey Seager and a comedy act by Yasiel Puig, who drove in two runs and wiggled his tongue in celebratory fashion. Now the Dodgers need a strong second act in order to put themselves ahead by two games before heading to the desert. Underdogs, you say? You can’t see me, but I’m sticking my tongue out at that notion.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the Co-Editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation and Dodger Blue 1958. She currently contributes to The Hardball Times. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.