The Walker Buehler mania almost went off without a hitch on Monday evening at Dodger Stadium. The Dodger’s top pitching prospect made his season debut and first MLB start in place of the injured Rich Hill against the lowly Marlins. It seemed like a great idea due to the situation being a low pressure game against a bad team at home. The youngster performed well regularly hitting the upper 90’s with his fastball on the radar gun. At one point he touched 100 MPH and his slider/curve were sharp as well.
Dodger Stadium and twitter were rife with Ferris Buehler’s Day off puns while the youngster twirled five shutout frames, striking out five. Dodger Stadium organist Dieter Ruehle serenaded the crowd with sound bites from the movie after every Buehler strikeout. There were tons of Mathew Broderick memes and Los Angeles was filled with puns. The kid pitched well despite an early inning hiccup and picked up his first Major League no-decision as the Dodgers beat the Fish 2-1.
Marlins 1 6 0
Dodgers 2 6 1
It’s too bad that the kid couldn’t pick up the win. But the bullpen couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead. Even though they were facing the rebuilding Marlins nothing was easy when the Dodger bats scuffled (one run on four hits) through the first seven innings and a hit by pitch and a throwing error allowed the Marlins to tie the game in the eighth inning. Thankfully the Dodgers would bounce right back to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth on a Chris Taylor double and a Cody Bellinger sacrifice fly. But let’s get back to Buehler’s day.
Buehler escaped a first inning jam when he allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases. Fortunately he struck out Brian Anderson and J.B. Shuck to end the inning. He struck out two more in the top of the second (Lewis Brinson, Yadiel Rivera) and then induced three consecutive grounders in the top of the third. Buehler’s command was a little off (he walked three) but was helped on the defensive side in the fourth when Yasmani Grandal caught Cameron Maybin stealing second. In his final inning of work Buehler pitched around a single, racking up another strikeout. Buehler allowed four hits and three walks over five innings and struck out five. He made 89 pitches and it looked like he was in line for the win.
But the Dodger hitters couldn’t do anything against Marlin’s pitcher Jarlin Garcia who was also impressive and more efficient. Garcia allowed just one earned run on four hits while striking out seven over six innings. He walked one and the lone blemish on his night was a fourth-inning solo home run from Enrique Hernandez. Speaking of Hernandez, he had quite a night with the bat and the glove. He made a couple of outstanding defensive plays at shortstop (filling in for Corey Seager, who took the night off). Check out these defensive gems. Hernandez would also factor heavily later in the game with a bunt single, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Hernandez would finish with a 3 for 4 night.
The Fish would tie the score in the top of the eighth though. Here’s how it happened. J.T. Chargois started the inning by hitting J.T. realmuto with a pitch. There was a botched double play on Starlin Castro’s grounder. The Dodgers got the force out at second, but Austin Barnes throws the ball over Bellinger’s head. Brian Anderson’s ground ball single into center scored Castro to tie the game and send my blood pressure sky high. Adam Liberatore had to come in and restore order by getting two ground outs to preserve the tie.
The Dodgers would fight back in the bottom of the eighth. With Kyle Barraclough on the mound, Taylor slashes a double to lead-off the inning. Hernandez’s bunt single towards third would put runners at the corners. One out later, Cody Bellinger’s sinking line drive to right was deep enough to score Taylor, and the Dodgers retook the lead 2-1. That was all the boys in blue would need. With Kenley Jansen getting the night off, Josh Fields was tapped to get the save, and he would do so. The right hander tossed a scoreless drama-free ninth inning to secure the Dodger win.
Buehler will stick around for another spot start on the next road trip in San Francisco before likely heading back to Oklahoma City. In the meantime the Dodgers/Marlins series continues Tuesday night with Kenta Maeda battling southpaw rookie Dillon Peters.