The Dodgers did what they needed to do against the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday night, scoring more runs than them to win the first game of the Wild Card round. But it wasn’t without some issues.
The Dodgers starter the scoring early, with two runs in the first inning off Brent Suter. Suter couldn’t find the strike zone, and issued five walks in his outing that lasted only 1 and 2/3 innings. Still, they ended the inning with the bases loaded, a common theme to them in the postseason.
Walker Buehler started hot, striking out the side in order in the first inning. He had six strikeouts through three innings. He had good command and his pitches looked sharp.
But then in the fourth inning, Buehler allowed a double to Daniel Vogelbach and homer to Orlando Arcia and then issued a walk. He got the next batter for another strikeout, and that would be all for Buehler. He ended with eight strikeouts over four innings of work, with two walks and three hits for a total of 72 pitches.
Buehler said after the game of his blister, that has caused issues and lead to him not being able to go deep into the game, “it is what it is and we’re managing it”. Not quite what you want to hear from your number one playoff starter.
Fortunately, the Dodgers have pitching depth. The bullpen followed with five scoreless innings of work, lead by Julio Urías, allowing Buehler to be pulled early as to not further aggravate that blister. Urías navigated a little bit of traffic, but made it through three scoreless innings, inducing five strikeouts along the way.
Kenley Jansen came in in the ninth to close out the game. He accomplished that, but was not sharp at all. He got the first two batters, one on a strikeout, but walked ninth batter to get to Christian Yelich. He pulled it together enough to get Yelich to strikeout.
After the game, manager Dave Roberts told reporters, “it was good to see him get the job done. It just didn’t seem like the stuff had the teeth that I’ve seen in recent outings. The cutter didn’t have life in the zone and the breaking ball was cast more than I’ve seen it.”
His last three cutters were only at 87, 87, and 86 mph. Usually they range in the low 90’s. Half of his pitches were not cutters, which is what Jansen has made his living on. Those cutters were the lowest mph he’s thrown all season. He has had an up and down year, so it’s definitely something to watch.
Cumulatively, the Dodgers pitching staff struck out 15 batters, tying a franchise record for most in a nine inning game.
Mookie Betts, who had been mocked for not having had good postseason stats so far, had two doubles in his first two at bats, scoring one and batting in two of the three runs the Dodgers amassed in the first two innings.
The Dodgers bats then went silent until Cody Bellinger had a single in the sixth inning, but was quickly erased with an AJ Pollock double play.
Corey Seager hit a homer to straight away center field in the bottom of the seventh to give the Dodgers a much needed insurance run. His homer was 447 feet, the longest at Dodgers Stadium this year. It tied Chris Taylor’s first inning, Game One 2017 WS homer for longest in the postseason at Dodger Stadium since 2015, which encompasses the StatCast era.
The Brewers are not at full strength, having had the elite set up man Devin Williams not make the roster because of an injury, and starter Corbin Burnes is also out with an injury. Ryan Braun left Wednesday night’s game with back tightness.
Game two will be Thursday at 7:08PT. The Dodgers will send Clayton Kershaw to the mound, and he will face off against Brandon Woodruff. The right hander went 3-5 this season with a 3.05 ERA and a 0.991 WHIP.