Looking to tie the franchise record for wins, achieved all the way back in 2019 and again in 2021, the Dodgers did so with a relatively uneventful afternoon against the Cardinals.
Making just the fifth start of the season, as well as his major-league career, Michael Grove earned his first career victory in the 4-1 win that clinched the best record in the National League.
The Dodgers struck early against Adam Wainwright, with Freddie Freeman doubling in Trea Turner with one out in the bottom of the 1st. A single for Will Smith and a hit by pitch for Justin Turner loaded the bases before Max Muncy‘s 99 mph liner made it two away. Joey Gallo battled with Wainwright, fouling off a pair of cutters but laying off a trio of curveballs as well as a high fastball to bring in a run on a walk. The scoring ended there with Gavin Lux flying out to end the inning.
While Grove allowed one in the 2nd inning after a one-out walk was cashed in on a pair of singles for the Cardinals, the Dodgers answered back with one in the 2nd as well. Trea singled with two away and moved up to second as Freeman drew a five-pitch walk, Wainwright’s third in just two innings. Smith took a curve to begin his at-bat before softly dropping a cutter into center field to score Turner from second for a 3-1 lead.
Wainwright’s struggles carried into the 3rd, as a single by Gallo was cashed in by Cody Bellinger doubling to right for another two-out RBI. Wainwright finished the 3rd, getting Mookie Betts to line out, but ended his day with 74 pitches, six hits and three walks to just one strikeout.
Zack Thompson entered in the 4th and led the Cardinals’ bullpen in slowing down the Dodgers’ offense. Thompson retired the side in order in he 4th and 5th, followed by JoJo Romero doing the same in the 6th and Jake Woodford doing so in the 7th.
With Bellinger’s 3rd-inning double the last hit or man on-base for the Dodgers, JT singled to open the 8th off Woodford to break that run up. Andre Pallante entered and retired Muncy and Gallo before striking out Lux looking to end the inning.
For Grove, the aforementioned struggle in the 2nd inning was actually a bit more of the exception as he cruised through the Cardinals’ order in his four other innings of work.
Needing just 10 pitches to close out the first three in the order (thanks to a nice play by Gallo at the wall), Grove bounded back from a 32-pitch 2nd inning with a 1-2-3 3rd on nine pitches, included in there was a four-pitch strikeout of Paul Goldschmidt. Grove had three swings and misses on just eight sliders in those first three innings, with four of the eight generating swings.
Maybe more impressive, Grove worked through the 4th without allowing a run following Lux’s one-out error on a ground ball by Juan Yepez. Clearly going to be an infield single after Lux couldn’t field it when shifting to his right, he still decided to throw to first where it bounced off of Yepez. As the ball rolled into right, Yepez reached third but remained there with Grove getting fly outs from Corey Dickerson and Dylan Carlson on just five more pitches.
Another 10 pitches got Grove through the 5th, with the Cardinals just sending a trio of fly balls to the outfield. While all three traveled 320+ feet, none came with a xBA higher than .190. Finishing with just 69 pitches across the 5 innings, Grove allowed three hits and a walk to three strikeouts. Behind 1-0 to nine of his 19 batters faced, Grove never really got into too much trouble deep into counts. Just one of those 1-0 counts reached 2-0, which resulted in the lone walk after Yepez went 3-0.
Brusdar Graterol entered in the 6th and gave up an infield single to Lars Nootbaar before striking out Goldschmidt swinging on just three pitches. A single brought the tying run to the plate, but a grounder from Yepez turned into an inning-ending double play.
Andre Jackson entered for his sixth career appearance in the majors and third this season, and needed 11 pitches to get through Dickerson, Carlson and Yadier Molina with swinging strikeouts, the latter two on his change-up. Jackson stuck around for the 8th, allowing just a single, but recorded three ground outs with the change. He continued in the 9th, and Jackson ended the day by getting Arenado to fly out before Yepez singled ahead of Albert Pujols pinch hitting. Getting ahead 0-2, Jackson fell behind 3-2 before getting another strikeout with the change.
And then to cap off the day, Gallo closed it out with this play to get Jackson the save.
A historic run.
Possibly the most exciting moment of the game until that final play.
Leading the National League by 10 with nine games remaining, the Dodgers have locked up homefield through the NLCS and get Monday off before traveling south to San Diego for three games against the Padres. Monday will be the last day off in the regular season, with the Dodgers then heading back to Los Angeles for six straight games against the Rockies to from Friday to Wednesday.
Tyler Anderson faces Blake Snell to open the series on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m.