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Mookie Betts’ pinch-hit walk-off single lifts Dodgers, spoils Zac Gallen’s gem

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Max Muncy reaches second on a double ahead of a throw to Geraldo Perdomo.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Mookie Betts singles with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Dodgers to a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mookie Betts’ pinch-hit, walk-off single lifts Dodgers past Diamondbacks

Four hours before the Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 Thursday on a walk-off hit by Mookie Betts, the eyes of everyone in blue were riveted on the Dodger Stadium pitcher’s mound.

Manager Dave Roberts and bench coach Bob Geren stood near the third-base line, arms folded. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman watched while engaged in conversation with Betts. A good half-dozen Dodgers pitchers leaned against the dugout railing, observing every pitch.

Nobody needed to state the obvious: What they were witnessing could seriously impact their postseason fortunes.

Tony Gonsolin, on the injured list since Aug. 29 with a forearm strain, was pitching to teammates Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, Hanser Alberto and Miguel Vargas. The All-Star right-hander held nothing back, throwing his four-seam fastball, slider, curveball and split-finger fastball.

Gonsolin, whose injury interrupted a breakout season that includes a 16-1 record and 2.10 ERA, took a seat in the dugout while reliever David Price — also on the injured list — faced the same four batters. Back came Gonsolin for another frame, and when he was done with the two-inning simulation known as an “up-down,” there were guarded smiles all around.

“I thought the stuff was good, the arm speed was good, and he used his entire pitch mix, which was great,” Roberts said. “Assuming he comes out of it OK, there’ll be a bullpen in a couple of days, then another live two-to-three inning, hopefully, up-down. Really encouraging for Tony.”

Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw says he sees himself pitching next season, but he’s not sure where. Last offseason he considered an offer from the Rangers.

Sept. 22, 2022

Just as encouraging was the ninth-inning rally to overcome a 2-1 deficit than enabled the Dodgers to split the four-game series. Cody Bellinger led off with a double — just missing a home run — and Will Smith and Max Muncy followed an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman with infield singles to tie the score. With two out, Betts pinch-hit for Joey Gallo, fouled off a full-count pitch and drove a single to left field to score Freeman.

Betts had the night off, but took some hacks in the batting cage in the ninth inning in case he was needed.

“I was hoping not to hit,” Betts said, “but you get into a situation that calls for it and you turn your brain on and you are ready to go.”

Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel, as wobbly as ever, was touched for Christian Walker’s home run in the top of the ninth, snapping a tie in a game highlighted by the dominant pitching of Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen, who struck out 13 and allowed only two baserunners in eight innings.

The pitcher who might be the Dodgers next-best option as a closer — Blake Treinen — admitted Thursday he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to pitch in the playoffs.

Treinen was conspicuously absent during Gonsolin’s pregame prelude. Unable to shrug off shoulder soreness, the highly valued reliever stayed in the clubhouse talking to a member of the training staff while Gonsolin and Price pitched.

Roberts had expressed skepticism a day earlier that Treinen would be healthy for the playoffs. The pitcher didn’t contradict his manager.

“The body is such a finicky thing that it’s a bit difficult to bounce back the way I wanted to,” he said. “But I don’t think there is a definitive answer yet one way or another. The only thing I can do is try to get to a point where I can be used, where I can help the team.”

Hard-throwing Brusdar Graterol returned from the injured list Thursday, a welcome addition to a bullpen anchored by right-handed Evan Phillips, left-hander Alex Vesia and Kimbrel. Treinen’s inclusion is tenuous at best.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías throws during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías throws during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

“I’d use the word frustrating,” Roberts said of Treinen’s status. “He’s not bouncing back. We are going to give him a couple days of no throwing, then he’ll pick up a baseball Saturday and see how he responds.”

Gonsolin is far closer to a return and would be an enormous boost. After being idle nearly a month, his stamina might not be enough to last more than three to four innings. Yet he’s given up only 76 hits in 128 1/3 innings.

Without him, the postseason starting rotation could consist of four left-handers: Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson. All are enjoying fine seasons, but Heaney and Anderson have no postseason experience. Right-hander Dustin May is in the mix, but has been inconsistent in six starts since returning from Tommy John surgery.

“I don’t expect it to be the same buildup as before he went on the IL, but I think that him giving us the opportunity to get in some valuable innings is still in play,” Roberts said of Gonsolin. “Him starting a game? Then it’s on us to see how long we can run him out there for.”

Lux had decent luck against Gonsolin and Price in the simulate game, holding up two fingers and insisting to coaches Mark Prior and Dino Ebel that he had two hits. The coaches vetoed Lux’s contention, saying that if the defense had been in a shift he wouldn’t have had a hit. Lux barked back but it was all in fun.

Moments later Lux fielded ground balls off the fungo bat of a coach until he was huffing, puffing and sweating profusely. Then the game began and he proceeded to make a poor decision, spinning and throwing wildly to second base after fielding a grounder several steps to his left in the third inning. The error led to the Diamondbacks’ first run.

Pitcher Dustin May gave up five runs as the Dodgers looked flat again in the 6-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

Sept. 21, 2022

The Dodgers answered with two out in the fourth against Gallen, who displayed a devastating knuckle-curve in retiring the first 11 batters — six on strikeouts. Smith tripled and Muncy doubled to tie the score 1-1.

Those were the only Dodgers baserunners through eight innings — Gallen retired the next 13 in a row, including seven more by strikeout. The right-hander is having a breakout season with a 12-3 record and a 2.46 ERA. Nevertheless, Gallen had thrown 98 pitches — 77 for strikes — and manager Torey Lovullo lifted him.

Roberts pulled Urías in favor of Phillips after the first two Diamondbacks batters in the sixth inning stung the ball — Stone Garrett doubling to left-center and Emmanuel Rivera lining out to Muncy at third. Urías made 89 pitches — 62 strikes — while giving up three hits and striking out five. Phillips struck out two batters to end the threat, Vesia struck out the side in the seventh and Graterol pitched a one, two, three eighth.

To the Dodgers delight, the Diamondbacks replaced Gallen with Reyes Moronta, who the Dodgers designated for assignment several weeks ago. Neither Moronta nor left-hander Joe Mantiply were up to the task, and Betts — his brain clearly turned on — delivered.

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Dodgers rally to defeat Arizona, 3-2

Craig Kimbrel came in to pitch the top of the ninth. He hit Jake McCarthy with a pitch. The Dodgers challenged the call, but it wasn’t overturned. McCarthy stole second. Replay showed he came off the bag on his slide and was tagged. Since Dave Roberts had already used his challenge, all he could do was request a replay. The umpires granted it and McCarthy was called out. Christian Walker then homered. Carson Kelly grounded to second. Josh Rojas walked. Sergio Alcantara struck out.

Former Dodger Reyes Moronta came in to try and get his second save of the series. Cody Bellinger doubled to right-center. Trea Turner grounded to short. Freddie Freeman was walked intentionally. Will Smith hit a bouncer to the hole between third and short. The shortstop made a diving stop but had not play. Bases loaded, one out. Left-hander Joe Mantiply replaces Moronta. Max Muncy hit a slow roller to third, everybody safe. Score is tied, bases loaded, one out. Justin Turner batting. He strikes out on three pitches. Mookie Betts, batting for Joey Gallo, singled to left on a full-count pitch to win the game.

Final score: Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2

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We go to the ninth, still 1-1

Neither team has scored since the fourth inning, as pitching has dominated this game.

Julio Urías went five and a third for the Dodgers, giving up three hits, one walk and one run while striking out five. Evan Phillips struck out both batters he faced in the sixth. Alex Vesia struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh and Brusdar Graterol pitched a perfect eighth, striking out one.

Zac Gallen has pitched eight inning for the Diamondbacks, giving up two hits and a run while striking out 12.

24 of the 48 outs tonight have been via strikeout.

Score after eight: Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 1

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Dodgers tie it in fourth

After Trea Turner struck out and Freddie Freeman grounded out to start the fourth, Will Smith hitting a sinking liner to left. Stone Garrett tried to make a diving catch and missed, with the ball rolling all the way to the fence. By the time it was retrieved, Smith was on his way to a triple. Max Muncy followed with a double to right to tie it up. Justin Turner popped to second to end the inning.

Score after four: Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 1

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Error helps Diamondbacks take 1-0 lead after three

The Diamondbacks take the lead in the top of the third. Sergio Alcantara singled to right. Daulton Varsho hit a grounder that Gavin Lux threw away for an error, putting runners at second and third. Geraldo Perdomo grounded to second, the runners mysteriously holding. Ketel Marte walked. Stone Garrett hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Alcantara. Emmanuel Rivera grounded to third, forcing Varsho at third.

Gallen struck out the side in the bottom of the third.

Score after three: Diamondbacks 1, Dodgers 0

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No score after first inning

It was a quick first inning (jinx!) at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, as both sides went down in order. Julio Urías struck out two for the Dodgers, Zac Gallen struck out one for the Diamondbacks.

Score after one: Dodgers 0, Diamondbacks 0

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Tony Gonsolin takes a major step toward returning in time for the playoffs

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin (26) throws.
Dodgers starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin delivers against the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 23.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Four hours before game time the eyes of everyone in blue were riveted to the Dodger Stadium pitcher’s mound.

Manager Dave Roberts and bench coach Bob Geren stood near the third-base line, arms folded. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman watched while engaged in conversation with Mookie Betts. A good half-dozen Dodgers pitchers leaned against the dugout railing, observing every pitch.

Nobody needed to state the obvious: What they were witnessing could seriously impact their postseason fortunes.

Tony Gonsolin, on the injured list since Aug. 29 with a forearm strain, was pitching to teammates Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, Hanser and Miguel Vargas. The All-Star right-hander held nothing back, throwing his four-seam fastball, slider, curveball and split-finger fastball.

Gonsolin took a break while reliever David Price — also on the injured list — faced the same four batters. Back came Gonsolin for another frame, and when he was done with the two-inning simulation known as an “up-down,” there were guarded smiles all around.

Pitcher Dustin May gave up five runs as the Dodgers looked flat again in the 6-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

Sept. 21, 2022

“I thought the stuff was good, the arm speed was good, and he used his entire pitch mix, which was great,” Roberts said. “Assuming he comes out of it OK, there’ll be a bullpen in a couple of days, then another live two-to-three inning, hopefully, up-down. Really encouraging for Tony.”

Conspicuous in his absence was the Dodgers’ most reliable reliever, Blake Treinen. Unable to shrug off shoulder soreness, he was in the clubhouse talking at length to a member of the training staff while Gonsolin and Price pitched.

Roberts had expressed skepticism a day earlier that Treinen would be healthy in time for the playoffs. On Thursday, the pitcher didn’t contradict his manager.

“The body is such a finicky thing that it’s a bit difficult to bounce back the way I wanted to,” he said. “But I don’t think there is a definitive answer yet one way or another. The only thing I can do is try to get to a point where I can be used, where I can help the team.”

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Zac Gallen uses knowledge of pitch sequencing to become the Diamonbacks’ stopper

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen delivers against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 17.
(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Ace right-hander Zac Gallen is on the mound for the Diamondbacks. Gallen is 12-3 with a 2.52 ERA over 28 starts. He’s given up 108 hits while striking out 167 in 164 innings.

Gallen’s WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) is a league-leading 0.92 and he is the only National League pitcher to yield an average of fewer than six hits per nine innings.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic recently wrote a profile of Gallen, doing a deep dive on how he’s become one of the best pitchers in baseball:

Gallen, 27, is fascinated by pitch sequencing, by the chess match of pitching theory. He wants to throw not just the right pitch, but the pitch that will set up the next one and eventually lead to the put-away pitch later in the at-bat. He has spent years studying hitters’ swings and learning what to glean from them, trying not just to find holes but to establish intent. He pores over data and video, devouring the scouting reports the club provides him and augmenting them with his own observations.

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Leadoff batter Mookie Betts gets day off and the rest of the lineup just moves up one

Mookie Betts bats against the Giants on Sept. 7.
Dodgers star Mookie Betts bats against the Giants on Sept. 7. Betts will not start Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Dodgers leadoff batter Mookie Betts gets a day of rest Thursday, and the adjustment to the lineup is made simple: Everybody else just slides up one.

Trea Turner will lead off, followed by Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Joey Gallo, Gavin Lux, Trayce Thompson, and Cody Bellinger.

Ace right-hander Zac Gallen is on the mound for the Diamondbacks. Gallen is 12-3 with a 2.52 ERA over 28 starts. He’s yielded 108 hits while striking out 167 in 164 innings.

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Clayton Kershaw is leaning toward returning next season, but the question is where

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to the plate during the first inning.
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

He would rather retire than break down again.

Except he believes he won’t.

He would rather walk away than be reduced to mediocrity.

Except he believes that won’t happen either.

So, when Clayton Kershaw pictures what he’ll be doing next year, he imagines himself pitching.

“As of now, I haven’t really thought a whole lot about next year,” he said. “But I do think I’m leaning towards playing over not, for sure.”

The tentative plan lacks specificity at this point, Kershaw saying he didn’t yet know whether he would return to the Dodgers for a 16th year or move on to pitch elsewhere. He entertained an offer from the Texas Rangers before this season and could revisit the possibility of playing for his hometown team in the winter.

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How to watch and stream the Dodgers this season

Here’s a look at the Dodgers broadcast and streaming schedule for the remainder of the 2022 regular season:

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