Entering today’s game, there was a fair amount of pressure on the Dodgers. After all, splitting a four game series in which they scored 42 runs is not really an acceptable outcome. However, thanks to a good performance by the back of the bullpen and some Diamondback fielding miscues, the Dodgers managed to overcome a rough outing by Walker Buehler and win today’s game by a score of 8-7.
Today’s game started well enough for the Dodgers, as they managed to jump on Diamondback starter Luke Weaver early, plating three in the first. Alex Verdugo was responsible for most of the damage, driving in two with a double on this pretty swing:
Cody Bellinger added a fourth run against Weaver in the third with his fourth home run of the year, which produced this all-time great pitcher reaction from Weaver:
However, the game nearly unraveled for the Dodgers shortly thereafter. Buehler cruised through the first three innings of his season debut, but then the after-effects of his abbreviated spring began to show. Buehler only generated two swinging strikes among the 66 pitches he threw, mostly owing to a lack of offspeed command. He threw only 14 offspeed pitches in the outing, and only three found the strike zone. Once the Diamondbacks lineup turned over, they adjusted and quickly pummeled him.
After the first five batters of the fourth inning reached base, Buehler’s day was done. His line: 3+ innings pitched, five runs, five hits, one walk, and no strikeouts. Overall there’s no major reason for concern yet, rather Buehler just looked like somebody who didn’t have a spring. It might take a while for him to get where he needs to be.
After Dave Roberts removed Buehler, Pedro Baez came in and poured gas on the fire, culminating with a two run home run by Diamondbacks starting pitcher Weaver. After the disastrous fourth inning mercifully came to a close, the Dodgers were facing a 7-4 deficit. Baez is currently sitting about 94-95 with his fastball, down 2 mph from last year. Given how he likes to pitch, this seems like it could be a major problem if it is not corrected quickly.
Once Baez was removed, the bullpen restored order. Yimi Garcia, Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro, Scott Alexander, and Kenley Jansen combined to pitch five scoreless frames and keep the team in it. The best news there: Kenley Jansen looked precisely like Kenley Jansen should.
The Dodger offense needed until the eighth inning to take advantage of this great set of performances. Against Diamondbacks right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano, Justin Turner reached on a rare fielding error by Nick Ahmed. Two batters later, Bellinger hit an infield single on the tenth pitch of an amazing at-bat in which he spoiled numerous good splitters. A.J. Pollock then hit a double down the right field line to tie the game, then reached third thanks to an Adam Jones bobble. Max Muncy‘s sacrifice fly put the Dodgers ahead for good.
Having snatched a series victory from the jaws of a potentially embarrassing split, the Dodgers will not get any rest before welcoming the Giants into town. Julio Urias will make his much-anticipated season debut against Drew Pomeranz tomorrow night at 7:10 PDT.