Hello and welcome to the penultimate recap of the first half of 2021.
Well, after yesterday’s misery fest, Walker Buehler rolled and the lineup absolutely exploded, totaling 21 hits and eight walks (and a hit by pitch) in a 22-1 win for the Dodgers over the Diamondbacks.
Newly announced All-Star Buehler was on the mound for the Dodgers tonight and he seemed motivated to justify the selection. After allowing a double in the 1st, Buehler didn’t face a batter with RISP the rest of the game. He notched strikeouts for five of his first six outs, and ended up with seven for the game.
After some issues with sharpness earlier in the year, he seems to be truly rounding into form now, lowering his ERA to 2.36: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 95 Pitches.
I mainly remember Diamondbacks starter Caleb Smith for being the guy some Dodger fans were saying was better than Hyun-Jin Ryu a couple off-seasons ago when the latter hit free agency. Well, uh, at least he’s finally managed to make his way into the rotation of the D-backs, I guess.
Smith had a rough start to the game, issuing a lead-off walk to Mookie Betts, giving up a single to Chris Taylor, and then surrendering a one-out double down the line in right to Max Muncy that plated two runs to make it 2-0.
Then with two down, the lead doubled after Cody Bellinger smashed a towering homer to right, his fourth of the year. AJ Pollock immediately followed with a no-doubter of his own to left, his 11th of the year, to make it 5-0.
Things did not get better for Smith in the 2nd, as opposing pitcher Buehler singled, Betts drew another walk, and then he walked CT3 to load the bases. Justin Turner then cleared them and plated himself as well with his 15th homer of the year and first career grand slam to open the game up to 9-0.
Justin Turner smashes 1st career grand slam. D-backs down bad. pic.twitter.com/0zPrIeZss5— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) July 11, 2021
That was the end of the road for Smith, as Matt Peacock relieved him and actually did great work. After the 2nd, he did face two runners on in both the 3rd and 4th but didn’t allow things to snowball and made it through three shutout.
Alex Young took over the 5th, facing the minimum in the inning thanks to a double play. He allowed two singles in the 6th but managed to work out of trouble, though the same couldn’t be said about the 7th. With one down in the inning, Pollock singled, then Young hit Austin Barnes, and Matt Beaty singled to load the bases. That brought up Betts, who clobbered his 12th homer of the year, a grand slam to make it 13-0.
Things got embarrassing for the D-backs later, as with two outs David Peralta dropped a routine fly ball in left for an error. Zach McKinstry immediately took advantage, smashing his seventh homer of the year to left for a two-run shot, and then Albert Pujols made it back-to-back jacks with his seventh of the year, pushing the lead to 16-0.
The Dodgers pen was afforded a break today, free of high leverage. Phil Bickford got the 7th in order, including a strikeout. Garrett Cleavinger gave up a solo homer to Andrew Young to start the 8th but rebounded by getting the next three batters, including two strikeouts.
No worries about the run, though, as Jordan Weems took over in the 8th for Arizona and was immediately greeted by Pollock smashing his second dong of the game and 12th of the year to push the lead back to 16 at 17-1.
Surely that was it, though, right? Surely there could be no more? Wrong, after a Barnes walk, Beaty single, and Betts walk, the bases were loaded yet again. Gavin Lux thought he walked a run in on a 3-1 count but the ump was feeling generous and called him back. So he decided to triple down the line in right instead to clear the bases and make it 20-1.
After a strikeout, Josh Reddick then entered to get the last two outs of the inning. Thankfully, the Dodgers didn’t take the foot off the gas. After a lineout, Pujols absolutely destroyed his second homer of the game and eighth of the year to make it 22-1.
Cause fuck Josh Reddick.
Hilariously, Cleavinger came up to bat and roped his first MLB hit, a double into the corner in left. After a walk, the inning finally came to an end with a ground out. My god.
Anyway, I think that was enough of a cushion for the front-end of the pen depth, and Jake Reed took over in the 9th, getting a clean 1-2-3 frame to end it.
The Dodgers are now 55-35 on the season, on pace for 99 wins, and yet remain 2 games back of the Giants in the NL West.
The rubber match of the series, and the last game before the All-Star break, is tomorrow at 10:10 AM HST/1:10 PM PST/4:10 PM EST. Tony Gonsolin will look to continue building his pitch count and rounding into form, facing off against Merrill Kelly.