Dodgers hit jackpot on lineup gamble, beating Giants to force Game 5
Los Angeles Dodgers players Walker Buehler, Mookie Betts, Gavin Lux and manager Dave Roberts discuss the Dodgers’ win over the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the NLDS.
The announcement surfaced at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday: Walker Buehler would start Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants on three days’ rest for the first time in his major-league career.
It was the obvious choice with the Dodgers on the brink of elimination. And yet it wasn’t a given for an organization that handles pitchers with deliberate caution, assessing risk at every turn down to the most minuscule details.
Another relatively out-of-character move arose a few hours later: Gavin Lux would start in center field. Lux has been an outfielder for all of five weeks. The last time the former top prospect was seen in center field, he was crashing face first into the wall during the season’s final week. He is still learning the basics and manager Dave Roberts had indicated Lux wouldn’t start in the outfield in the playoffs.
Final: Dodger stave off elimination with 7-2 win over Giants in Game 4 of NLDS
The Dodgers will live to see another day. Two more days, in fact.
With a 7-2 win over the Giants in Game 4 of the NLDS, the Dodgers have forced a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday back in San Francisco.
Tonight, they were led by Walker Buehler, who gave up only one run in 4 1/3 innings despite pitching on three days rest.
They got production up-and-down the lineup, with six different players collecting two-hit games.
And, even though they didn’t truly pull away until Will Smith’s two-run homer in the eighth, they kept the Giants at arm’s length thanks to another strong performance from the bullpen and clean defense in the field.
Joe Kelly was credited with the win, after relieving Buehler in the fifth. Anthony DeSclafani took the loss for the Giants after giving up two runs in a 1 2/3 inning start.
Final: Dodgers 7, Giants 2
End 8th, 7-2 Dodgers: Will Smith hits two-run homer
Will Smith gave the Dodgers some important breathing room, swatting a two-run homer in the eighth to make it 7-2.
End 8th: Dodgers lead 7-2
Mid 8th, 5-2 Dodgers: Giants get one run; fan is tackled trying to run onto the field
The start of the eighth was delayed by several minutes after a fan ran onto the field and was tackled near the foul line in right.
The stoppage was so long that Blake Treinen threw a couple extra warm-up pitches before facing his first batter of the frame.
That first batter, Brandon Crawford, hit a double and later came around to score on a Kris Bryant RBI grounder.
However, that was the only run the Dodgers set-up man yielded, keeping a three-run lead intact going into the bottom of the eighth — with Kenley Jansen now warming up in the bullpen.
Mid 8th: Dodgers lead 5-2
Mid 7th, 5-1 Dodgers: Alex Vesia, Blake Treinen combine for scoreless seventh
The Dodgers bullpen continues to keep the Giants at bay.
In the top of the seventh, Alex Vesia entered the game and got two outs. Then, after Vesia surrenderde a single to Austin Slater, Blake Treinen was summonded and struck out Darin Ruf.
Things are now set up for the final two innings, with Treinen likely able to return for the eighth and Kenley Jansen seemingly set up to pitch the ninth.
Mid 7th: Dodgers lead 5-1
End 6th, 5-1 Dodgers: Brusdar Graterol lights up the gun, Gavin Lux continues big night
Brusdar Graterol not only pitched a scoreless inning in the top of the sixth, but threw the hardest pitches of his big-league career, hitting 102.5 mph twice in the inning.
In the bottom half, the Dodgers generated another scoring chance after Trea Turner reached on a grounder that deflected off the pitcher and Gavin Lux went the other way for a single — his second hit of the game to go along with two walks.
The Dodgers, however, failed to tack onto their lead, as Cody Bellinger grounded out on a ball that deflected off first baseman Darin Ruf but was fielded by secnod baseman Tommy La Stella.
End 6th: 5-1 Dodgers
End 5th, 5-1 Dodgers: Dodgers load the bases but only get one run
The Dodgers landed another jab, but still not the knockout punch.
After getting bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth with one out, the Dodgers mustered only one run on a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly to make it 5-1.
It re-established their four-run lead, but they still haven’t pulled completely away.
So far tonight, the Dodgers are just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and have stranded nine men on base.
End 5th: Dodgers lead 5-1
Mid 5th, 4-1 Dodgers: Giants get a run, but Joe Kelly keeps lead intact
The Giants finally got one run, but Joe Kelly tightroped his away out of what could have been a much worse fifth inning.
After inheriting a two-on, one-out spot from Walker Buehler, Kelly gave up a single to Tommy La Stella in his first at-bat to load the bases.
Then Darin Ruf drove in a run with a grounder to second.
With two outs and runners at second and third, Brandon Crawford came to the plate but hit a ground ball to third baseman Justin Turner to end the inning.
Buehler’s line is now final: 4.1 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 71 pitches — and all on three days rest.
Mid 5th: Dodgers lead 4-1
Top 5th, 4-0 Dodgers: Walker Buehler exits with one out in the fifth; Joe Kelly on to pitch
Walker Buehler’s short-rest Game 4 start is done with one out in the fifth.
After giving up a leadoff single to Evan Longoria and walking Steven Duggar with one out, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts came out to get Buehler, turning the game over to his bullpen to protect a four-run lead.
Joe Kelly is coming on in the two-on, one-out spot.
Buehler threw 71 pitches, gave up three hits and two walks, and struck out four batters.
Top 5th: Dodgers lead 4-0
Mid 4th, 2-0 Dodgers: Walker Buehler works around a walk, is at 60 pitches through four innings
After getting a couple quick outs in the fourth, Walker Buehler started to battle his command, walking Kris Bryant on four pitches and falling behind LaMonte Wade Jr. in the next at-bat with two more balls.
But, after a mound meeting from Will Smith, Buehler settled back in, hitting the zone with a sinker before getting an inning-ending grounder with a changeup.
Buehler is now up to 60 pitches, but will get at least one more inning. He is on deck to lead off the bottom of the fourth at the plate.
Mid 4th: Dodgers lead 2-0
End 3rd, 2-0 Dodgers: Giants get out of bases-loaded jam to stay within striking distance
A few more feet, and Chris Taylor would’ve blown this game open.
Instead, Taylor watched a deep drive to left die at the wall and drop into the glove of a leaping LaMonte Wade Jr., ending the third inning and leaving the bases loaded.
Giants relievers Kervin Castro, who began the inning, and Jarlín Garcia, who entered with two aboard, combined for three walks to load the bases with one out.
But then Cody Bellinger hit a ground ball fielder’s choice, with the Giants getting a force out at the plate. And Taylor lifted a full-count fastball deep, but not deep enough for a grand slam, keeping the Giants within striking distance through three innings.
End 3rd: Dodgers lead 2-0
Mid 3rd, 2-0 Dodgers: Walker Buehler finding early groove
Before the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he’d keep a close eye not just on Walker Buehler’s velocity tonight, but also his command and movement on secondary pitches.
So far, so good.
Buehler continues to hit 97 mph consistently, and just struck out his second and third batters of the night in the third inning, using several curveballs and sliders to get ahead and put batters away.
After throwing mostly fastballs in his Game 1 start against the Giants, Buehler is incorporating his other five pitches with more regularity.
Mid 3rd: Dodgers lead 2-0
End 2nd, 2-0 Dodgers: Anthony DeSclafani out of game after giving up another run
The Dodgers needed less than two innings to knock Anthony DeSclafani out of the game.
After Gavin Lux and Cody Bellinger hit back-to-back singles to lead off the second — both of them attacking secondary pitches early in the count — Chris Taylor made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly deep to left.
Walker Buehler struck out, but then Mookie Betts drilled a ground ball that shortstop Brandon Crawford knocked down by couldn’t field, an infield single that put runners back on the corners (Bellinger maybe could have scored from first, but third base coach Dino Ebel put up the stop sign, not wanting to take a chance on a ball that only rolled a few feet away from Crawford).
Left-hander Jose Alvarez came out of the bullpen and ended the inning, getting Corey Seager to fly out to center.
DeSclafani’s final line: 1.2 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts
End 2nd: Dodgers lead 2-0
Mid 2nd, 1-0 Dodgers: Walker Buehler strands runners on the corners
Walker Buehler faced his first jam of the night in the second, giving up a pair of singles to Kris Bryant and LaMonte Wade Jr. that put runners on the corners.
But Buehler got out of it, striking out Evan Longoria with a couple well-executed sliders before inducing a soft line drive from Mike Yastrzemski — whom the Dodgers elected to pitch to even with the pitcher on deck — to end the frame.
Buehler is now at 33 pitches.
Mid 2nd: Dodgers lead 1-0
End 1st, 1-0 Dodgers: Trea Turner opens scoring with RBI double
The top of the Dodgers lineup went right after Anthony DeSclafani in the first inning, squaring up the Giants’ starter several times to take an early lead.
Corey Seager hit a line drive single into left and then was driven home by Trea Turner, who hammered an RBI double into the right-center gap.
Mookie Betts and Will Smith also made solid contact against DeSclafani in the inning, but both balls were caught for outs.
A notable stat: The Dodgers went 79-20 this season when scoring first.
End 1st: Dodgers lead 1-0
Mid 1st, no score: Walker Buehler sharp in scoreless first inning
Walker Buehler didn’t look like a pitcher operating on short rest in the first inning, retiring the Giants in order on just 11 pitches.
His command was good, throwing strikes on seven of 11 pitches. And his velocity was actually harder than normal, with the fastball getting up to 97.5 mph.
Mid 1st: No score
NLDS Game 4 about to get underway
Game 4 is about to begin at Dodger Stadium. Quick programming note if you’re looking for the game on TV: It is being shown on TNT until the Brewers-Braves game on TBS concludes.
Inside the stadium, the crowd is still filing in for the early start.
During pregame warm-ups, there were loud cheers for Walker Buehler ahead of his first career start on short rest. Later, there were boos when the Giants were introduced, as well as when umpire Angel Hernandez’s name was read over the PA system.
What to know about NLDS Game 4: Why Walker Buehler is pitching on short rest, his elimination game history, lineup changes and more
The Dodgers have already survived one elimination game this postseason. They’ll need to win two more in the next couple days — starting with tonight’s Game 4 in the NLDS against the Giants — if they want to reach the National League Championship Series for the fifth time in the last six years.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Here’s what you need to know as the Dodgers try to extend their season:
First pitch: 6:07 p.m. PDT.
Dodger notes: Walker Buehler will pitch on three days rest for the first time in his major league career. Roberts said Buehler, who pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up three runs in Game 1 on Friday, approached the coaching staff following Game 2 about starting again on short rest.
Once the Dodgers lost Monday to put their season on brink, they decided to go with Buehler instead of a Tony Gonsolin start or bullpen game.
“Taking down as many outs as we can with the best arms available was the original thought,” Roberts said, adding: “Once [Buehler] came today and felt good, it was a no-brainer.”
Roberts didn’t say how long Buehler might be able to pitch, but acknowledged he’ll be on a tighter leash than usual.
“That will be dictated on how he’s throwing the baseball and how he feels,” Roberts said. “It’s purely just watching the game.”
Buehler will become only the second pitcher the Dodgers have started twice within five days in the postseason under Roberts and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Clayton Kershaw did it twice in the same scenario — pitching Game 4 of an NLDS with the team facing elimination — in 2015 and 2016.
Tuesday will also be the fourth elimination game Buehler has started in his playoff career. In the three previous outings (Game 7 of the 2018 NLCS, Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS and Game 6 of the 2020 NLCS) he has a 1.04 ERA. The Dodgers won two out of three.
The Dodgers also tweaked their lineup Tuesday. In the outfield, they put Gavin Lux in center field — a position he only started playing at the professional level last month — and shifted Chris Taylor to left, dropping AJ Pollock to the bench.
Roberts said the team wanted Lux’s left-handed bat in the lineup, especially against right-handed Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani. Between Lux, Taylor and right fielder Mookie Betts, Roberts also noted the Dodgers will have a lot of foot speed to track down fly balls. Roberts is planning to use Pollock for a potential matchup later in the game, if the right situation arises.
Cody Bellinger also is back at first base, returning to the lineup after Albert Pujols started in Game 3 against a left-hander. Corey Seager and Trea Turner were put back in their normal second and third spots in the batting order, respectively. Catcher Will Smith was bumped up to the cleanup role, one spot ahead of Justin Turner.
One player who Roberts said won’t factor into Game 4: Julio Urías, who is instead being saved for a potential Game 5 start.
Giants notes: The Giants will field their fourth different lineup of the series, most notably putting Darin Ruf at first base and the No. 2 spot in the batting order.
Tommy La Stella is back in the lineup after exiting Game 3 early after telling coaches he was experiencing some Achilles tightness.
“There was some concern coming into today,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “But once I talked to him and just kind of established that we could stay with the kind of honest approach throughout the game, we felt really good about putting him in the starting lineup today.”
The Giants stayed on their normal rotation turn, tabbing DeSclafani to start in what will be his postseason debut. With his five-pitch arsenal — headlined by a slider, four-seam fastball and sinker — DeSclafani did well this season at limiting hard contact and minimizing free bases, walking batters in just 6.2% of plate appearances.
DeSclafani did struggle against the Dodgers, suffering a 7.33 ERA in six starts against them this season. Most of that damage was done during a 10-run, 2 2/3-inning start in May. He also gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings in July. His last outing against the Dodgers on Sep. 3 was his best, holding them scoreless over six innings at Chavez Ravine.
Kapler didn’t reveal much about his potential bullpen options, saying he wanted to keep everything on the table. Asked specifically about reliever Tyler Rogers and closer Camilo Doval — who each threw multiple innings in Game 3 — Kapler said the team was waiting to see how they felt closer to game time before.
Kapler did say the team would likely try to avoid using Logan Webb or Kevin Gausman, who started Games 1 and 2 and will likely be involved in a potential Game 5. But Kapler reiterated The Giants “don’t want to rule anything out.”
‘Very small’ chance Max Muncy plays in NLCS if Dodgers advance
Max Muncy hasn’t done any baseball activity since injuring his left elbow in the Dodgers’ season finale Oct. 3. He hasn’t picked up a bat. He hasn’t fielded a ball. He’s been relegated to spectator in every way during the postseason.
But manager Dave Roberts said hasn’t closed the door on Muncy joining the team if they survive the Giants and advance to the National League Championship Series.
“I don’t want to say out for sure because there’s a chance, there’s still a chance,” Roberts said before Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday. “It’s still very small.”
Roberts said he didn’t know if there was a plan for Muncy to swing a bat in the next couple of days. He hinted that Muncy would make the NLCS roster strictly as a defensive player at least to start the series.
It’s not likely. Every spot on the 26-man roster is valuable, and Muncy’s value is as a hitter above else. The slugger led the team with 36 home runs and posted a .895 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 144 games this season.
The Dodgers have been shut out twice in four games without the All-Star in the middle of the lineup. To fill the hole, the Dodgers have had Matt Beaty, Cody Bellinger and Albert Pujols start games at first base in the postseason. Billy McKinney also played there in two games. Bellinger will start at first base in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Gavin Lux to start in center field with Dodgers facing elimination in Game 4
Seeking more offense on the brink of elimination, the Dodgers will have Gavin Lux start in center field in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Giants on Tuesday night.
Lux has been an outfielder for five weeks. The former top prospect was asked to transition to the outfield in September, first in triple A before rejoining the major league club, because the Dodgers didn’t have a spot for him in the middle infield.
He excelled at the plate enough for the Dodgers to keep him in left field for 10 games and move him to center field when AJ Pollock returned from the injured list to play left field, even though he clearly looked uncomfortable at points. His inexperience contributed to his collision with Cody Bellinger on a fly ball that broke Bellinger’s ribs.
The experiment only ended when Lux suffered a neck stinger crashing into the wall in left-center field Sept. 29. That was the last time Lux started a game. The Dodgers opted for other options in the outfield for their final four regular season games and first four playoff games.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler will start NLDS Game 3 on short rest. Manager Dave Roberts, pitcher Blake Treinen and utility player Chris Taylor discuss the decision and what gives them confidence in Buehler.
But the Dodgers have been shut out twice in the postseason. They have scored more than three runs once. They decided they needed more offense, and Lux, a left-handed batter, became their preferred option against Giants right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.
Right-handed hitters have batted .204 with a .577 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against DeSclafani this season in 349 plate appearances. Left-handed hitters have hit .248 with a .695 OPS in 327 plate appearances.
Lux’s last appearance on defense was in the regular-season finale Oct. 3. He played right field for the first time in his career for two innings. He batted .360 with a .967 OPS in 17 regular-season games after getting called up Sept. 10.
On Monday, he came off the bench with two outs in the ninth inning to blast a fastball that he and everyone thought was headed over the wall to tie the score. Instead, it died in the wind and the Dodgers lost.
Lux will bat sixth Tuesday. Chris Taylor, the Dodgers’ center fielder the last two games, will move to left field and hit eighth. Cody Bellinger will play first base and bat seventh. Pollock won’t start for the first time in this postseason.
Dodgers haunted by chilling moments in blustery Game 3 NLDS loss to Giants
How windy was it?
Before delivering his fourth pitch, the Dodgers’ Max Scherzer literally blew off the rubber.
The game was briefly stopped for a ball boy to rid the field of flying garbage.
Flagpoles bent. Light poles shook. Cups of soda flew off a press box table.
The greatest rivalry in sports made a mess of one of the greatest playgrounds in sports Monday night, with cold 45-mph gusts welcoming the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants to a littered Dodger Stadium.
And, naturally, the Dodgers reacted like any normal Southern Californian to this Bay Area weather.
They were blown away.
Winter could soon be coming to Chavez Ravine after the Giants sailed on Evan Longoria’s fifth-inning homer to a shivering 1-0 victory, giving them a 2-1 lead in this best-of-five National League Division Series.
ICYMI: Dodgers facing playoff elimination after another shutout loss to Giants
Dodgers players Max Scherzer and Albert Pujols, along with manager Dave Roberts, talk about the Dodgers’ 1-0 loss in NLDS Game 3 against the San Francisco Giants.
All Mookie Betts could do was scream, grab his bat off the ground by the barrel and chop at the air, incredulity sweeping through him and everyone else in blue.
He had just smashed a baseball 100.4 mph on a windproof line searching for a patch of grass in the seventh inning of Monday’s Game 3 of the National League Division Series. Steven Souza Jr., the tying run, already was halfway to third base. The Dodgers were poised to finally break through. The 53,299 people braving the stiff winds at Dodger Stadium were ready to burst. Brandon Crawford had another idea.
With a leap, the San Francisco Giants shortstop snagged the scalded baseball from the air and landed with the third out to stunned silence. The acrobatics rendered the batted ball’s .870 expected batting average moot. Crawford was precisely positioned. His timing was even better, and the Dodgers were left with nothing.
Dodgers’ approach is sound at the plate in Game 3, but the Giants made key plays
Four games into their World Series title defense, the Dodgers are already facing elimination for the second time.
After navigating the winner-take-all wild card game last week against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team is suddenly right back in a corner, trailing a best-of-five NLDS against the San Francisco Giants two games to one following a 1-0 loss on Monday night.
If the Dodgers mount a rally and advance to the NLCS, Monday’s game might become a footnote in the grand scheme of the season.
Fail to beat the Giants in back-to-back games, however, and the shutout loss at Dodger Stadium will go down as a turning point that led to the eventual end of their season.
Latest betting lines and odds for Dodgers vs. Giants in Game 4 of the NLDS
The Dodgers are facing a must-win situation heading into Game 4 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants tonight at Dodger Stadium. Here are the latest lines and odds for the game:
Dodgers and Giants finished the season one win apart. They’re one big win apart again
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford didn’t have time to think.
The Dodgers were threatening to erase San Francisco’s 1-0 lead in the seventh inning Monday, applying pressure by putting runners on first and second late in a game that would put either team within a victory of winning their National League Division Series. Giants starter Alex Wood had stifled the Dodgers’ best efforts, limiting them to two hits, but they finally got to the bullpen for two singles in the seventh. That brought Mookie Betts to bat in a game-tipping situation.
Betts took the first pitch from Jake McGee for a ball. Betts rapped the next pitch sharply, promisingly, toward left field.
Crawford reacted instinctively. Leaping like the high school basketball dunker he once was, he soared high in the air near the far edge of the dirt, just before the grass. When he came down, he had the ball in his glove, and the Dodgers had wasted a prime scoring chance.
“There’s not a whole lot of time for anything to really go through my head. Just ‘catch the ball.’ That’s all I’m thinking,” Crawford said.
“I think it had a little bit of topspin on it, fortunately, and it was right over my head, so I was able to just jump and hope that it goes in my glove.”
Dodgers and Giants finished the season one win apart. They’re one big win apart again
Dodgers’ Albert Pujols excels in shortened, maybe final, playoff start
The game had four innings to play, at least. His team had two hits, and he had both of them. This postseason series was tied, and he was coming out of the game.
He was not injured. His team had voluntarily silenced one of the most lethal bats in baseball history.
Twenty years and one day had passed since Albert Pujols hit his first postseason home run, off Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.
The Hall will call for Pujols too, and we will remember his glory days, his three most valuable player awards, how he accepted the “best player in baseball” torch from Barry Bonds and graciously passed it along to Mike Trout.
Walker Buehler will start for Dodgers in elimination game against Giants
With their season on the line, the Dodgers will have Walker Buehler start Tuesday on short rest in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants.
Buehler, the Dodgers’ Game 1 starter Friday, has never started a game on three days’ rest in his major-league career. The right-hander yielded three runs across 6 1/3 innings in the Dodgers’ Game 1 loss at Oracle Park. He threw 99 pitches.
The only times Buehler has pitched on three days’ rest or less in his big-league career has been as a reliever. He logged those six outings in 2017, his rookie season, before establishing himself in the Dodgers’ rotation the following year.
The Giants will counter with Anthony DeSclafani, who is making his postseason debut. He posted a 3.17 ERA in 31 starts this season, but the Dodgers have pounded him. The right-hander surrendered 22 earned runs in 27 innings across six starts against the rivals.
Tuesday will be the 23rd clash between the Dodgers and Giants, heated rivals who went down to the last day of the regular season to decide the National League West champion. Buehler will have started in eight of the meetings.
The Dodgers’ other option was to start Tony Gonsolin or have him pitch multiple innings in a bullpen game. On Monday, Gonsolin said he expected to pitch at some point Tuesday. The Dodgers were waiting to see how Game 3 went — both the result and the pitching usage — before making a decision.
Going with Buehler in Game 4, leaves Julio Urías on regular rest to start Game 5 on Thursday in San Francisco — if there is a Game 5. Urías held the Giants to one run over five innings in the Dodgers’ Game 2 win. He threw just 72 pitches.