Dodgers 5, Rockies 2: Walker Buehler leads way as Dodgers complete comeback, recapture NL West pennant

(Via)

It took one extra game this time around, but for the sixth consecutive year, the Dodgers are champions of the National League West, thanks to dingers by Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy paired with an all-around stellar effort by Walker Buehler.

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It looked like this one had the makings of a good, old-fashioned pitchers’ duel, as Buehler and Rockies starter German Márquez traded zeroes across the first three innings. Márquez, who struck out nine batters on the day, picked up four of those K’s in the fourth. He opened the frame by fanning Muncy, but a crossup with catcher Tony Wolters led to Muncy taking first. That proved costly for Colorado, as two batters later, Bellinger got the scoring going with a big two-run home run.

Muncy was involved the next time the Dodgers scored as well. Joc Pederson led off the fifth with a double, and Muncy brought them both home with his 35th home run of the season. Yes, we are living in a world where Max “DFA’d by the A’s” Muncy has hit 35 home runs in a season.

The Dodgers tacked on another in the sixth, as Buehler cashed in Enrique Hernández‘s two-out double with a base hit to make it 5-0.

It was Buehler’s first career RBI, and it couldn’t have come at a much better time.

Buehler had quite a day overall, recording as many hits as he allowed. In fact, the first hit Buehler surrendered came with one out in the sixth inning. It wasn’t the rookie’s most commanding performance — he fought his control some, walking three and only striking out three — but it was more than enough to shut down a potent Rockies offense.

Buehler was lifted with two outs in the seventh after issuing a walk, giving way for Pedro Báez.

While he walked Ian Desmond, Baez then escaped the slight jam by inducing a popout from Matt Holliday.

Báez also got the first out of the eighth before being replaced by Scott Alexander, who was promptly lifted after allowing a hit to Charlie BlackmonKenta Maeda entered and retired his two batters to avoid trouble.

Because this game was apparently lacking some drama, Kenley Jansen, enlisted to handle the ninth, lost the shutout on back-to-back homers by Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story. Jansen proceeded to put away the next three batters to close out the game, but the concerns inspired by his shaky performance put something of a damper on an otherwise celebratory occasion.

Those worries are for another day, though. For now, let’s enjoy the Dodgers remaining the reigning NL West champs. Pulling that off six years running is no small feat, even if it’s just the first step in a journey that hopefully leads to something much, much bigger.

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Enrique’s defense was certainly special.

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Just as this one was getting underway, the Brewers beat the Cubs, 3-1, to claim the NL Central. They’ll face the winner of the Cubs-Rockies Wild Card Game in the NLDS, starting Thursday. The Cubs will host the Rockies for that win-or-go-home match tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers will welcome the Braves to Dodger Stadium on Thursday for a rematch of the 2013 NLDS, with starting time remaining to be announced. Also remaining to be announced are starters for the series, but it seems very likely that it’ll be Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, Hyun-Jin Ryu in Game 2 and Buehler in Game 3.

About Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler
Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She is now an editorial producer for MLB.com, and co-hosts a podcast, The Hardball Times Audio. She earned her master's degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor's in History and a minor in American Studies. She's an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.