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Recap: Dodgers defeat Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of wild-card series

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Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler delivers to Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich.
Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler delivers to Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich during the first inning of Game 1 on Wednesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers open the postseason with a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of their National League wild-card series.

The Dodgers opened the postseason with a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of their National League wild-card series on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

Final: Dodgers win 4-2, put Brewers on the brink in best-of-three

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in Game 1 on Wednesday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Kenley Jansen does his job, finishing off the Dodgers’ 4-2 win over the Brewers. After issuing a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Jace Peterson, Jansen struck out Christian Yelich with a high fastball to end the game and earn the save.

The Dodgers are now one win away from advancing to the National League Division Series. Game 2 will be tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Key stats:

  • Mookie Betts went two-for-four with an RBI and two doubles
  • Corey Seager hit a home run and drew a walk
  • The Dodgers’ lineup recorded more walks (six) than strikeouts (five)
  • The Dodgers’ bullpen: five innings, zero runs, four hits, seven strikeouts, one walk
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Dodgers can’t add any more insurance, Kenley Jansen coming on for the save

AJ Pollock doubled with two outs in the eighth but was stranded at second. Score remains 4-2 Dodgers going into the ninth.

Kenley Jansen will get the ball for the bottom of the ninth. He’ll be looking for his 17th career postseason save, and his first in the playoffs since Game 5 of the 2018 NLCS. He was 11/13 in save opportunities this regular season with a 3.33 ERA overall.

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Treinen takes care of the eighth, Jansen warming for the ninth

Blake Treinen makes easy work of the Brewers in the eighth inning, stranding a two-out single from Avisail Garcia to retire the side in 11 pitches. Treinen had struggled some late in the regular season, allowing nine earned runs in his final 10 appearances, but never lost the trust or support of his manager – loyalty he repaid right there.

It remains 4-2 Dodgers, with Kenley Jansen warming in the bullpen.

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Seager homers to extend Dodgers lead to 4-2

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, right, is congratulated by Chris Taylor after hitting a home run.
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, right, is congratulated by Chris Taylor after hitting a home run against the Brewers on Wednesday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Corey Seager snaps the Dodgers’ mid-game offensive lull with a 447-foot solo home run to straightaway center, the longest home run hit at Dodger Stadium this year. It gives the Dodgers a key insurance run with two innings to go, stretching their lead to 4-2.

Seager’s postseason history entering the night had not been great. In 31 playoff games, he was hitting just .203 with a .331 slugging percentage. He also hadn’t hit a home run in the playoffs since Game 2 of the 2017 World Series.

Blake Treinen now entering the game for the Dodgers, who are six outs away from a 1-0 series lead.

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Urías escapes trouble again

For the second straight inning, the Brewers put the tying run in scoring position on a two-out double from Christian Yelich. However, Julio Urías kept the Dodgers’ 3-2 lead intact by inducing an inning-ending pop out from Tyrone Taylor (who entered the game earlier in the night for the injured Ryan Braun). Blake Treinen was warming up during that inning. Things are set up for a Treinen-Kenley Jansen finish to this game if Dave Roberts wants.

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Dodgers offense comes up empty again

Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias strikes out Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Daniel Vogelbach
Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias strikes out Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Daniel Vogelbach in the sixth inning.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Aside from two Mookie Betts doubles and five walks from Brewers starter Brent Suter, the Dodgers offense has been quiet. The lineup’s other eight hitters are just two-for-18 and squandered their most recent hit, a leadoff sixth-inning single from Cody Bellinger, on an AJ Pollock double-play. Edwin Ríos walked later in the inning, but was stranded at first.

Seven of the team’s 19 batted balls have had exit velocities of 95 mph or more (MLB’s threshold for a “hard hit” ball), but only three of them have gone for hits. It remains 3-2 Dodgers going into the seventh.

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World Series quest begins despite the lack of playoff atmosphere at Dodger Stadium

Samantha Alvarez and Benjamin Hernandez watch from a distance as the Dodgers play the Milwaukee Brewers.
Samantha Alvarez and Benjamin Hernandez watch from a distance as the Dodgers play the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

In baseball’s adaptation to the new normal, the morning routine is altogether odd. Dave Roberts likes to walk the neighborhood, pop in somewhere for a cup of coffee, get the postseason pulse of the town. But there is no walking the neighborhood this fall for the Dodgers’ manager, because there is no escaping the hotel.

This is the baseball bubble, in which the Dodgers have played at home for the past week without actually going home. Get on the bus to go from Dodger Stadium to the hotel, then get back on the bus to go back to the hotel, sleep, repeat.

“It seems,” Roberts said with a laugh, “like summer camp.”

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Urías strands a man at second, keeps Dodgers in front 3-2

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Julio Urias throws to the Milwaukee Brewers during Game 1.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

A defensive mistake from first baseman Max Muncy — who tried to track down a short flare into right but instead kicked the ball around — allowed Avisail Garcia to reach second with one out. Julio Urías, however, escaped the frame unscathed, striking out Orlando Arcia and inducing a groundout against Eric Sogard to end the inning.

Urías was in contention to start a potential Game 3, but has been tasked to protect this Game 1 lead for the Dodgers instead, with his pitch count now up to 38.

It remains 3-2 L.A. going into the bottom of the sixth.

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Brewers bring in Topa for a scoreless fifth inning

Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Justin Topa throws during Game 1.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

After getting 2 ⅓ key innings from Eric Yardley, who retired all 10 batters he faced, the Brewers got a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fifth from Justin Topa. The right-hander, who allowed two earned runs in only 7 ⅔ innings this season, throws sinkers and sliders almost exclusively and can reach the upper 90s on the radar gun.

It remains 3-2 Dodgers entering the sixth.

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Urías retires the side; Ryan Braun exits the game

Dodgers reliever Julio Urias pitches to Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich during the fifth inning.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Julio Urías was able to keep the Dodgers in front 3-2, stranding a one-out single to Christian Yelich with a pair of strikeouts. The Brewers used two pinch-hitters in the inning, first substituting the left-handed hitting Omar Narvaez with righty Jacob Nottingham after the left-handed Urías entered the game.

The second move was more surprising. Ryan Braun was replaced by Tyrone Taylor with what might have been a back injury. The right fielder has been bothered by his back this season and ran into the wall hard making a catch in the second inning.

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Dodgers turn to Julio Urías to begin fifth

Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler delivers during the first inning.
Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler delivers during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

After another scoreless inning from the Dodgers’ offense — they’ve made outs in nine of their last 10 at-bats since Mookie Betts’ second-inning double — Dave Roberts turns to his bullpen. Julio Urías comes on to begin the fifth inning in relief of Walker Buehler with the Dodgers leading 3-2.

Buehler, who entered the night nursing a blister on his right index finger, goes only four innings and allows two runs on three hits. He struck out eight but needed 73 pitches to get through his outing, which was the shortest of his postseason career.

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Brewers on the board with two-run homer

Walker Buehler pitches against the Brewers on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

The Dodgers have seemed to be in control through the opening innings of this one, yet suddenly find themselves ahead by only one run.

After Daniel Vogelbach doubled with one out in the fourth, Orlando Arcia hit a two-run home run to left for the Brewers to trim the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2.

The blast came in an 0-and-2 count on a 97 mph fastball just above the knees and over the middle of the plate. That snaps a streak of four straight postseason starts for Buehler of allowing one run or fewer.

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Buehler gets to 7 strikeouts again in the playoffs

Walker Buehler began the fourth inning with his seventh strikeout of the night, giving him at least seven Ks in each of his first seven career postseason appearances. Per ESPN, that ties Curt Schilling for the second-longest such streak in MLB history. Only Randy Johnson (nine in a row) has more. Still 3-0 Dodgers.

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Buehler strands leadoff walk, put another zero on the board

Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws during the first inning Wednesday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Walker Buehler keeps up his two-strikeouts-per-inning pace, getting Omar Narvaez to look at strike three in zone before fanning Ryan Braun with another curveball in the dirt. It helped him strand a leadoff walk to Keston Hiura and got him through the third with only 48 pitches, 33 for strikes. It remains 3-0 Dodgers.

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Betts makes it 3-0 Dodgers as Brewers turn to bullpen

Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts doubles in the first inning.
Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts doubles in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Mookie Betts, who was only a .227 postseason hitter in his career with the Red Sox, is off to a 2-for-2 start tonight. This time, he drove in Chris Taylor, who doubled to lead off the second, then dug for second himself and dove in for his second double of the night, making it 3-0 Dodgers.

Brent Suter would only last another three at-bats. After issuing a two-out walk to Max Muncy (his second free pass of the night), Brewers manager Craig Counsell summoned right-hander Eric Yardley from the bullpen. Yardley, who had a 1.54 ERA in 23 ⅓ innings this season, got the final out to end the inning.

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Another scoreless inning from Buehler

Another inning, another two strikeouts for Walker Buehler, who worked around a one-out single to Avisail Garcia to keep the Dodgers’ two-run lead intact. A lot of fastballs and curveballs from Buehler early on. He has thrown the former with an average velocity of 97.4 mph and generated four swings-and-misses with the latter. Still 2-0 L.A.

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Betts’ double, Suter’s four walks, give Dodgers early 2-0 lead

Josh Gitt waves a bandana while watching the Dodgers play the Milwaukee Brewers from a distance.
Josh Gitt waves a bandana while watching the Dodgers play the Milwaukee Brewers from a distance outside Dodger Stadium in Elysian Park on Wednesday.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Mookie Betts didn’t wait long for his first postseason contribution with the Dodgers. He led off the bottom of the first with a double the other way that Ryan Braun couldn’t haul in.

Brent Suter couldn’t find the strike zone after that. After walking Corey Seager and Max Muncy to load the bases, Will Smith and AJ Pollock were both given free passes on four pitches to score a pair of runs. After walking only five batters all regular season, his four base on balls in the first helped give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

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Buehler strikes out a pair in scoreless top of the first

Walker Buehler’s blister looked just fine in the first. He struck out Christian Yelich on three pitches, then punched out Ryan Braun. Both went down on hard-biting curveballs. He needed just 11 pitches to retire the Brewers in order.

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Kershaw-Barnes battery will start Game 2

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to an Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the Diamondbacks on Sept. 3.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Clayton Kershaw will make the 26th start and 33rd appearance of his rocky postseason career in Game 2 of the wild-card round against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. He’ll take the mound fresh off a bounceback 2020 regular season.

Austin Barnes, Kershaw’s unofficial personal catcher in recent years, will start behind the plate and Will Smith is expected to be the designated hitter.

Kershaw’s stuff, notably his velocity, improved from the previous two years. His 2.16 ERA was seventh among pitchers that logged at least 50 innings. He was the Dodgers’ ace. How does he explain the rejuvenation? Did it all come down to being healthy? Well, he says he doesn’t exactly know.

“I wish I had an answer,” Kershaw said. “I’d be able to repeat it better. But I’m hopeful that some of the things that I’ve done because I’ve been kind of beat up in the past, has prepared me to kind of maintain what I’ve got going on right now.

Kershaw will pitch in his 10th postseason. He carries a baffling 4.43 ERA in the tournament. His last appearance, in Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS against the Washington Nationals, was a disaster. He’ll look to turn the tide Thursday 12 years after making his playoff debut as a reliever in 2008 NLCS. His advice for 20-year-old Clayton?

“I think just trying to trust what you’ve done to be there, I guess, would be the main [advice],” Kershaw said. “I think maybe at the very early on, you might not trust, necessarily, the work you’ve put in or the success you’ve had before and you maybe lose some faith or some confidence and things like that in what you’ve done so just try to remember that the process and the routine that’s got you here is good enough to get people out in the regular season or the postseason.”

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Meet Brent Suter, the Brewers’ Game 1 starter 

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Brent Suter throws against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 25.
(Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)

With staff ace Corbin Burnes out because of a left oblique strain, the Brewers will turn to Brent Suter to start Game 1.

A 31-year-old left-hander in his fifth MLB season, Suter recorded a 3.13 ERA over 16 appearances, though only four of his outings were starts and none were longer than four innings. He struck out 38 batters with only five walks in 31 ½ innings and was actually tougher against right-handed hitters (who hit .241 and slugged .325 against Suter) than lefties (.250/.450).

Despite his 6-foot-4 frame, he isn’t a hard thrower. His four-seamer, which he used more than 70% of the time this year, only averaged 85.4 mph. But it contrasts well with a changeup, sinker and curveball. He doesn’t draw a lot of chases and has a below-average first-pitch-strike percentage, but does get whiffs almost one-third of the time and allows very soft contact, ranking in the top 15% of MLB pitchers in exit velocity and hard-hit percentage.

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Walker Buehler hoping blister isn’t a problem

The Dodgers' Walker Buehler pitches against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 21.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Walker Buehler has already proved in his career that postseason pressure is no problem. The Dodgers are hoping a nagging blister on his right index finger, however, doesn’t become an issue in his Game 1 start.

Buehler said the blister, which twice landed him on the injured list this season, is “fine” and didn’t affect him during bullpen sessions leading up to Wednesday’s start.

But manager Dave Roberts acknowledged he’d be “really dependent on our training staff” to monitor Buehler’s throwing hand throughout the game.

“It’s inning to inning,” Roberts said. “We’ve got to make sure we get through tonight in a positive situation because most guys with a blister, once you see it and it shows itself again, it’s too late. So it’s kind of threading the needle.”

In his postseason career, Buehler was a 2.72 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 36 ⅓ innings. In his last four playoff starts, including a Game 7 gem against the Brewers in the 2018 NLCS, Buehler has allowed only two total earned runs.

During this regular season, however, Buehler managed just eight starts, the first several of which were short appearances as he built up stamina. His 3.44 ERA was his highest since joining the Dodgers’ rotation in 2018.

“I would say it’s probably been his most trying season,” Roberts said. “The late ramp-up into summer camp. Then four or five starts ago we had him in a really good spot, he was throwing his best of the year, then the blister showed its face.”

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Fans to be allowed at World Series, NLCS

The Dodgers might get to play in front of fans yet — if they can advance through the first two rounds of the postseason.

MLB announced Wednesday that a limited number of tickets will be made available for the National League Championship Series and World Series, both of which will be played at the Texas Rangers’ new home ballpark, Globe Life Field, in Arlington.

The league said 11,500 tickets will be available for each game, with 10,550 fans spread out in the stands and 950 more watching from suites. Tickets will go on sale beginning Oct. 6 at 8 a.m. PDT on MLB’s website.

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Here’s why the Dodgers will win the World Series this year

Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts takes part in a team practice session on Tuesday.
(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

My prediction to win it all this year: The Dodgers. Now, before you newcomers just call me a homer, longtime readers of Dodgers Dugout will tell you I have never made this prediction before the playoffs started. But I think the addition of Mookie Betts this year puts the Dodgers over the top.

Do the Dodgers have holes on their team? Of course. Max Muncy isn’t hitting. Cody Bellinger wasn’t hitting, but in his last 13 games he hit .349/.481/.605. Production at second base could be an issue. Kenley Jansen makes everyone nervous.

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Dodgers must win World Series title for 2020 to be a success despite schedule quirks

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the MLB playoffs again. Is this the year the win it all? And if they do win, does it count? Los Angeles Times sportswriter Jorge Castillo and columnists Dylan Hernandez and Bill Plaschke discuss those things and more.

The Dodgers lost one of the 20 series on their 60-game regular-season schedule. If they lose one in October, that rampage they completed Sunday — most runs scored, second-fewest runs allowed, highest winning percentage by any team since 1954, an eighth consecutive National League West title — will become a footnote in another failed attempt to win the World Series.

Those are the stakes. This expanded 16-team postseason format didn’t appropriately reward the Dodgers’ dominance in a season played without fans and with a possible COVID-19 outbreak looming every day while players and coaches addressed social issues beyond baseball. Too many teams qualified. The three-game wild-card series added a layer of unprecedented variance. The randomness of the playoffs was amplified. But it’s the same for every club and it doesn’t change this fact: The Dodgers are the overwhelming favorites to win their first championship since 1988. Anything short of reaching that peak would be a massive disappointment.

“It’s kind of World Series-or-bust every year,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “This year, I think, certainly would be more special, if it could even be possible. But we’ve all gone through a lot. The whole industry has.”

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‘The glue’ of the Dodgers, Justin Turner yearns to win a World Series title

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner smiles during a team practice session at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner smiles during a team practice session at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

As much as he hates to think or talk about it, Justin Turner’s baseball mortality is staring him right in the ginger-beard-covered face.

The Dodgers third baseman beloved by fans turns 36 in November, and the four-year, $64-million contract he signed before 2017 expires in a few weeks.

Turner will open his seventh consecutive postseason with the Dodgers Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers with a potentially balky hamstring, a warming bat and no guarantee he will return to Los Angeles in 2021. This could be his final October to help the Dodgers end their 31-year championship drought.

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Brewers reliever Devin Williams and his ‘Airbender’ out for series against Dodgers

Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Devin Williams delivers a pitch.
Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Devin Williams will not play against the Dodgers in this week’s wild-card series.
(Morry Gash / Associated Press)

The playoff hopes of the Milwaukee Brewers were dealt a serious blow Wednesday when right-hander Devin Williams was left off the roster for the first-round series against the Dodgers because of right-shoulder soreness. The best-of-three series opens with Game 1 in Dodger Stadium tonight at 7.

Williams may have been baseball’s best reliever this season, going 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA in 22 games, striking out 53 and walking nine in 27 innings. His 17.67 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate in a 60-game season tied Aroldis Chapman (2014 Reds) for the best single-season mark in baseball history.

The 26-year-old rookie, who features a 97-mph fastball and a screwball-like, 84-mph changeup called “the Airbender” that fades down and away from left-handed batters, allowed only one run all season, on a solo homer by Pittsburgh’s Colin Moran on July 27.

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It’s Belli vs. Yeli again when Dodgers face Brewers, but with lower expectations

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Christian Yelich waits to bat against the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 21.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Last summer, Major League Baseball, spotting a rare national marketing opportunity, made Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich the center of an impromptu ad campaign. It made sense. They were the clear top two NL MVP candidates at the All-Star break. They emerged as superstars in their markets. Belli vs. Yeli, a friendly contrived rivalry, was born. In the end, Bellinger was named MVP.

That now seems like a long time ago. The two outfielders will meet in the wild-card round starting Wednesday when the Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers play Game 1 at Dodger Stadium, but they aren’t coming off MVP-caliber regular seasons. For 60 games, they were part of a group of All-Stars across the majors that saw their production nosedive in 2020.

Yelich didn’t cross the Mendoza Line until his 22nd game Aug. 19. The 2018 NL MVP finished with a .205 batting average, .705 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and 12 home runs. His wRC+ plummeted from 174 last season to 112, which estimates the 28-year-old right fielder was just 12% better than the average hitter.

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Dodgers vs. Brewers lineups: Mookie Betts leads off; Edwin Ríos at DH

Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts hits a two-run triple against the Colorado Rockies.
Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts hits a two-run triple against the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 18.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Unlike in recent years, the Dodgers will trot out lineups without many moving parts this postseason. Their lineup for Game 1 against the Milwaukee Brewers is an example.

The first six hitters, led off by Mookie Betts, are a group the team expects to start and bat in that order every game. The three final spots went to AJ Pollock, Edwin Ríos and Chris Taylor.

Ríos will be the first designated hitter in a National League playoff game in Dodgers history. Taylor will start at second base. Pollock will play left field.

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Dodgers carry fewer pitchers on the roster for the best-of-three wild card round

Dodgers starter Alex Wood delivers against the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 20.
Dodgers starter Alex Wood delivers against the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 20. Wood is not on the Dodgers’ wild-card playoff roster.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

The Dodgers announced their roster for the wild-card round against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday hours ahead of Game 1 and it included a few changes from how they finished the regular season.

Outfielder and pinch-running specialist Terrance Gore, infielder Matt Beaty and catcher Keibert Ruiz were included in the 28-man group. Left-handed pitcher Alex Wood, right-handed pitcher Dylan Floro and second baseman Gavin Lux, the organization’s top prospect entering the season, were left off.

The team will carry 13 pitchers, fewer than they did during regular season and fewer than they would in the following rounds when the series is longer and pitching depth is more necessary.

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People-pleasing Dave Roberts knows Dodgers fans need a World Series title to be happy

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts instructs his players.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts knows the pressure is on for the team to win a title.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Dave Roberts is a people person. He likes to be liked, and he always has.

Which makes this an unusual time for him.

Roberts claims he is not on social media, but he has an idea of what people are saying about him, how they don’t trust his judgment, how they don’t think the Dodgers can win a World Series with him as manager.

“I try to not take it personal,” he said over the phone.

Roberts chuckled.

“But some things people tell me,” he said, “it seems personal.”

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