Buehler Now Walks Among Dodger Greats Podres and Valenzuela

When a franchise has been around long enough, and becomes victorious enough, its time line is bound to include games that placed its youngest players in the highest of pressure cooker situations. That occurred once again in Game 7 of the NLCS when the Dodgers sent 24 year-old Walker Buehler to the mound with their World Series hopes in the basket of his pitcher’s glove.

The last time Buehler faced the Brewers was Game 3, and he wasn’t exactly stellar in that outing. He opened his night by walking Christian Yelich and promptly giving up a double to Ryan Braun, putting the Dodgers behind 1-0 in the first inning. Buehler settled down until the sixth, when he gave up a two-out triple to Travis Shaw, who later scored on a wild pitch that got past Yasmani Grandal. Those runs, combined with his previous starts, brought the young, would-be ace to a postseason record of 0-1, with a 6.75 ERA. For a team that allows statistics to drive its mind-set as much as the Dodgers, those numbers had to be cause for concern as their young pitcher approached the mound with all the marbles on the line.

Back in 1955, the then-Brooklyn Dodgers were battling to overcome their “Bums” label, and win their first World Series championship. Johnny Podres, on his 23rd birthday, had already pitched a complete game victory in Game 3 against the Yankees, when manager Walter Alston handed him the ball for the biggest start of anyone’s pitching career, the Big Kahuna, Game 7 of the World Series. .

“After I won Game 3, Alston told me that if there is a Game 7, I would be his starter,” Podres said. “That gave me a lot of confidence.” – Johnny Podres 

He did not disappoint. Podres tossed another complete game, a brilliant 2-0 shutout to slay the mighty Yankees and win the Brooklyn club’s only championship.

26 years later, another Dodgers rookie, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Award winner, Fernando Valenzuela, all of 20 years-old, held the Dodgers’ championship hopes in Game 5, the finale of the 1981 NLCS. Fernando gave up a run in the first, when Montreal Expo legend, Tim Raines, hit a double and later scored. Montreal wouldn’t plate another runner, as Fernando shut the door on the Expos for the next 7 and 2/3 innings. Bob Welch notched the final out and picked up the save. The Dodgers took the series because earlier, in the top of the ninth, Rick Monday blasted one of the franchise’s most storied postseason home runs, placing the Dodgers on top 2-1. The Boys in Blue later went on to win the 1981 World Series – again besting the New York Yankees.

Fast forward 37 years. This time it was 24 year-old rookie Buehler’s turn to face the postseason heat – Game 7, winner take all, against the formidable Milwaukee Brewers. Buehler’s night began much like his last start, coughing up an early run. The Brewers scored in the first inning, behind a solo home run from Christian Yelich. The Dodgers Groaning and Chowder Society revved their engines, but Buehler quickly settled in and shut down the Brewers over the next 4 2/3 innings.

Buehler survived giving up two singles in the second with a ground out to end the inning.  He then induced a double play in the third, and struck out Ryan Braun to close that frame. Milwaukee struck again in the fourth with a lead off double. The Brewers were sure bending Buehler,  but he would not break. He mowed down the next three batters, striking out two. Young Buehler began the fifth inning with two more Ks, but he was lifted when Lorenzo Cain ripped a double off him. He finished his night giving up just one run, with six hits, no walks, and seven punch outs.

The young king didn’t pick up the win, but he left with a 2-1 lead, after driving the Dodgers halfway to the Fall Classic. Podres and Valenzuela were winners in their big games, and in my book, Walker Buehler came away a winner as well.

 

 

 

 

Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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7 thoughts on “Buehler Now Walks Among Dodger Greats Podres and Valenzuela

  1. Looking at the bullpen vs the Red Sox, who have an abundance of big time right handed bats that hits for average. I think Wood needs to be subbed out here for someone like Venditte or a ground baller like Alexander.

    Our pitchers, especially Maeda and Baez, needs to step up big time.

    1. If they need a right hander, they could opt for Chargois or Axford. Venditte has not pitched since the 26th of September against the D-Backs, and unless he has been down in Arizona keeping loose, I would think that is way to long a layoff. Axford was one of the guys they sent to AZ to stay fresh. So were Farmer, and Verdugo. Guys who were mainstays early in the year, Hudson and Goeddel are both on the 60 day DL, and not healthy enough to pitch. They have Cingrani and Alexander who they could use to replace Wood. Baez has been nails in the playoffs so far. Maeda, he needs to be like he was last year. He has not been that effective so far. The Dodgers using as many lefty’s as they do in the rotation are going to be able to neutralize the bats of Moreland and Devers.

  2. Went down to the Stadium and picked up 2 tix for Game 3 and got me one of those caps they were all wearing after the game. Last year, I didn’t buy tix for WS and bought a WS cap. This year totally changed that up, if Dodgers win the WS, I will chalk it up to my change in strategy.

    1. True

      I am glad you are getting your act together this year.

      I remember you buying that last year.

      I really like the Teams in this series.

      This will be series about two teams, with very different offenses, if they continue to play like they have.

      YF What are you predicting?

      1. MJ
        Where have you been? I have missed you a lot. I hope you are not upset with me. I needed to talk to you during the playoffs. I hope you are not sick. Please don’t be a stranger. Go Dodgers!! Dodgers in 6

      2. MJ welcome back! I know that I’ve missed your voice here and I suspect many others too! Even the old Bear!

        I’m not sure what I am predicting. I feel better than last year about this team, mainly because none of our relievers seem overused, and I think that our coaching staff and front office actually has a plan this year for all 25 players on the rotation. I agreed with putting Urias on the NLCS roster I thought he might be needed as the last pitcher in extra innings, and with Ferguson, Urias, Maeda and Wood I thought we had enough guys to go 2-3 innings to save Kenley, Madson and Baez from overuse (yes Baez should still only be allowed to pitch clean innings and only 1 inning tops).

        Last year, I did not know why McCarthy was there for, and I’ve never liked Darvish in big spots. We had a bunch of guys who were only good for matchups; only 2 could go 2-3 innings. That put a ton of pressure on Morrow and Jansen. If anyone remember I had wanted the Dodgers to put Ryu on the WS roster. I kind of feel like we should swap out Wood for the WS, who’s kind of losing it, but they probably keep him on as the mop up guy.

        But we are underdogs for sure, even with how I feel about this team.

        This Red Sox team has the highest payroll in the majors and they’ve got everything. They are even better than last year’s Astros in have a great batting average (1st in majors by a big margin) as well as OPS (1st by an even bigger margin), and they are also one of the hardest teams to strikeout. And they’ve got speed too and also walk a lot. They just beat the team with the best pitching in the majors (the Astros).

        And their pitchers were actually one of the best at limiting HRs even though they pitch half of their games at Fenway and a whole bunch at smaller parks like Yankee Stadium.

        So I think our pitchers and our defense really need to bring it for us to have any chance against the Red Sox. I know that the stats say we are leaning even more on the three true outcomes hitting approach but I also think guys like Muncy, Joc and Bellinger are hitting away more and I think I like our bench bats better in Kemp and Freese (both of whom I trust against either lefty or righty pitching). I feel that Kike and Grandal also need to turn it around and hit some HRs. We will see how Kiké does against Sale; Sale pitches with exaggerated arm motion and 4 plus pitches, I think he’s like MadBum in many ways.

        That’s a lot of things that needs to go right for us …. all I got is hope and a lot of it ….

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