For the fourth consecutive game the Dodgers received a quality start from their starting pitcher. This time on Wednesday afternoon’s series and home stand finale against the Cincinnati Reds, it was Walker Buehler who held the Reds to just one run over 6.1 sterling frames. Once again I will continue to repeat myself over and over again because I know I am right (The results also confirm this), starting pitching is the name of the game. It is the most important aspect of baseball. Sure you can win without good starting pitching, but it’s very difficult to do. Without good quality starters that pitch deep into games, you will have a very tough time winning games.
So that is why it was no surprise to see the Dodgers win their fourth consecutive game, a 3-2 low scoring pitcher’s duel over the Reds coinciding with their fifth consecutive quality start from their starting rotation. Buehler was not only efficient, but he was in total control. After a first inning walk to lead-off man Joey Votto, Buehler retired 18 of the next 19 hitters until Yasiel Puig’s single in the top of the seventh inning. Joe Davis had fun obsessing over both pitchers being from Vanderbilt. Good times.
Reds 2 3 0
Dodgers 3 3 2
Queen City hurler Sonny Gray was just as effective. As a matter of fact, he kept the Dodgers without a base runner until Cody Bellinger’s single in the bottom of the fourth inning. Both pitchers matched strikeout for strikeout as they battled deep into the day at Chavez Ravine. Buehler tossed 6.1 innings allowing just three hits, an unearned run and struck out eight. Gray pitched six innings allowing three runs on only two hits and struck out nine. But one of those two hits was a big one.
In the bottom of the sixth, Austin Barnes walked and stole second base. Buehler failed to move Barnes to third striking out while attempting to bunt. Then Gray recovered to whiff Joc and there were two outs. So with first base open and Bellinger due up the Reds would make the prudent move. They intentionally walked Bellinger to pitch to A.J. Pollock, and boy did Pollock make them pay. At first glance it appeared to be the right move. After all Bellinger, red hot is one of the best hitters in the National League at present. But Pollock smacked a hanging curveball from Gray over the left-center field fence for his second home run of the season. The three-run shot made the score 3-0 Blue. Pollock’s home run gives the Dodgers a home run in 32 consecutive games at Dodger Stadium which ties a major league record.
Now the Dodgers just had to hold the lead. Buehler wavered in the top half of the seventh. Puig and Kemp singled, and Jesse Winker lined out to center. Scott Alexander came in (after a Barnes passed ball advanced the runners to second and third) and got Eugenio Suarez to ground out, but Puig scored and the Reds cut the Dodger lead to 3-1. Pedro Baez would induce Tucker Barnhart to ground out to end the inning. Baez pitched around a hit batter to keep the Reds off the board in the top of the eighth and we move to the top of the ninth with the Dodgers still ahead 3-1.
Kenley Jansen entered for the save situation. Things got a little dicey. Enrique Hernandez screws up an easy grounder from Puig and the error put the lead-off man aboard. Puig steals second and Barnes throws the ball into center field allowing Puig to go to third. Barnes had a rough game with the throwing error and passed ball. Matt Kemp’s sacrifice fly to left plates Puig to cut the lead to 3-2 but there’s two outs and the bases empty. Finally Suarez fouls out to Barnes behind the plate as the catcher falls down while making the catch. Kenley (praying all the way) records his fifth save of the season and the Dodgers win it. The Dodgers sweep the Reds, improving to 12-8 on the season. They’re back in first place and a happy flight to Milwaukee.
It won’t get any easier for the boys in blue as they embark on a seven game road trip. They’ll open a four-same set against the Brewers in Milwaukee starting on Thursday night. Julio Urias will counter Zach Davies in the opener at 5:10 PM PST.