In a stressful game that took all nine innings to determine the winner, in a glorious walk-off fashion, the Dodgers advanced to the NLDS to face their division rival San Francisco Giants.
It was a usual Dodgers playoff game in that the bats didn’t ever really get going. There were some great defensive plays robbing the Dodgers of hits, but mostly the hits were bloops and runners got on base via the walk. The best chance at a big scoring opportunity was thwarted when Trea Turner ground into a bases loaded, inning ending double play.
There also was some shaky defense that led to the Cardinals only run of the game, when an error and then a wild pitch allowed Tommy Edman to score in the top of the first. And starting pitcher Max Scherzer was not his normal dominant self on the mound.
But, the Dodgers prevailed. While not having great command, Scherzer ended up allowing only that one run in the first. And when the game looked like it could get out of hand in the fifth, Manager Dave Roberts made the right move, taking out Scherzer and bringing in Joe Kelly, who stranded the two runners on base. The rest of the bullpen was dominate, and handled 4.2 innings of scoreless relief.
One player not to be overlooked in the walk-off win is Cody Bellinger. While his recent struggles at the plate are well documented, it was his walk that lead to St Louis Manager Mike Shildt’s changing his pitcher to face Chris Taylor. Bellinger also had another walk and a single in the game, and a stolen base in that ninth inning. It’s not the huge offensive fire power we’re used to seeing from Cody, but good at bats will start to manifest themselves into better at bats, and Wednesday night he helped the team.
It must be noted that Roberts pulled all the right strings to get the win. He used Luke Raley early in the game as a pinch hitter, saving Chris Taylor to be able to deliver his heroics in the ninth. And while many were wondering if it was a good thing to remove Scherzer from the game that early, it worked and preserved the tie. Roberts trusted in his bullpen and they showed up for him and the team.
If that first game was any indication what the rest of the playoffs will be like for the Dodgers and their fans, there will be a lot of stressful innings for the remainder of October. But that’s all a baseball fan can really ask for, a chance to keep moving on in the playoffs.
The starters for the first two NLDS games in San Francisco have been announced. In game 1, it will be Logan Webb and Walker Buehler. Game 2 will see Kevin Gausman and Julio Urías. Friday’s game will be at 6:37 PST, and Saturday’s game will start at 6:07PST.