Dodgers’ late outburst makes up for Walker Buehler’s shaky start against Diamondbacks
“Oh,” Hershiser said on the SportsNet LA broadcast. “That don’t look good.”
Just six days after returning from a trip to the injured list caused by a blister, Buehler appeared to be battling the irritating finger issue again during a season-short start of 2 2/3 innings in which he gave up five runs (two earned) against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Fueled by a familiar late-game offensive outburst, the Dodgers won nonetheless Tuesday night, completing a season-best four-run comeback with a 10-9 extra-inning victory in which AJ Pollock scored the go-ahead run on an error and Gavin Lux recorded five RBIs.
But the management of Buehler’s blister could be the most significant big-picture development to come out of the game.
The right-hander downplayed the impact the blister had in his start — “I feel good physically, I just didn’t make pitches,” he said — and called it something “we’re just trying to figure out how to deal with. I’m not overly concerned.”
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He added he will have to “find a way to make sure that it doesn’t get any worse. I think we’re doing a job of doing that. … It’s just an adjustment. There’s stuff you’re going to have to do differently and stuff you can do the same.”
While blisters are hardly unusual for pitchers, they can be uniquely annoying. Buehler’s appeared to be no exception. As his start went sideways, the 26-year-old didn’t show any signs of pain. His frustration, however, was impossible to hide.
After opening the game with seven consecutive outs, Buehler allowed a solo home run to Daulton Varsho with one out in the third and then singles to Tim Locastro and Josh Rojas in the next two at-bats.
Roberts and a trainer came to the mound to check on Buehler’s finger, which was a non-issue in his first start back from the IL last Wednesday, but left him in the game.
Two pitches later, a throwing error by Lux on a run-scoring Ketel Marte grounder put runners on the corners with still only one out. Christian Walker drove in a run with a fielder’s-choice grounder in the next at-bat, then Kole Calhoun lined a two-run home run to left field. This time, Roberts retrieved the ball from Buehler for good.
“I don’t think today was a result of [the blister],” reiterated Buehler, who still managed a 98.9-mph average fastball velocity (the second highest in a game in his career, according to Brooks Baseball) and eclipsed triple digits four times in 61 pitches.
“I think it’s something that [the media] will talk about, but to me, I just didn’t make pitches.”
Before the game, Roberts said Buehler’s hand hadn’t been getting “hot” in bullpen sessions and he didn’t think Tuesday’s start would put the pitcher in harm’s way. Roberts did acknowledge, however, that a blister “can show its head pretty quickly.”
Roberts expects Buehler, who is supposed to help anchor the Dodgers’ rotation when the postseason begins with a best-of-three wild-card series in three weeks, to make his next start but said “nothing is off the table.” He thought Buehler’s problems Tuesday were the result of a combination of physical impediments and execution mistakes.
“Obviously, Walker is going through something he hasn’t ever really had to deal with,” Roberts said, adding, “For us, it’s monitoring and managing the workload and make sure he’s ready to make his next start and get through October.”
The Dodgers got Buehler off the hook for the loss Tuesday, climbing out of the early hole by scoring four runs apiece in the seventh and 10th innings.
Walks from Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor (the Dodgers drew a season-high 12 free passes on the night) sparked the seventh-inning spree, preceding an RBI single from Lux, two-run double from Edwin Ríos and game-tying RBI single from Mookie Betts.
The Dodgers were aided by two Diamondback mistakes later in the game, with Locastro running into a third out at home in the bottom of the ninth and Eduardo Escobar committing the 10th-inning error that allowed Pollock to score. Lux, who hit his first home run of the season in the second, added a three-home blast in the next at-bat in the 10th.
“I got a pretty good pitch to hit,” Lux said. “I wasn’t necessarily looking for it.”
It provided important insurance, though, as Kenley Jansen allowed three runs (two earned) in the bottom of the 10th before striking out Wyatt Mathisen looking to end the game.
“I think he’s playing much more like himself,” Roberts said of Lux, who entered the night hitting just .148 after being recalled late last month. “He hit a ball the other way for a homer and then that ball down low [in the zone in the 10th inning], stayed through it. Obviously a big hit, the difference in the game. … Everyone knew it was in there. Sometimes it just takes a little time to get your feet under you.”
Reliever Joe Kelly showed “really good command” in live at-bats Monday, Roberts said, adding that the team is hoping to get the right-hander, who is on the injured list and has to serve a five-game suspension once activated, four or five appearances before the playoffs. … Reliever Pedro Baez, who also is on the injured list, is also slated to face more live hitting Wednesday and could be activated by the end of this week. … Joc Pederson was placed on the paternity list Tuesday. Reliever Josh Sborz was recalled in his place. Pederson will likely rejoin the team following Friday’s off day.
Three takeaways on the Dodgers
1.) After entering the night without a home run or RBI on the season, Gavin Lux got both with an opposite-field solo shot to left field in the second inning. The rookie received a warm greeting from Dave Roberts in the dugout too, with the manager shouting, “That’s what I’m talking about!” as Lux returned. In the 10th, Lux homered again — a three-run blast to right.
2.) Blake Treinen bounced back from taking a loss against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday by throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief Tuesday. The right-hander needed just 12 pitches to get his four outs and lowered his earned-run average to 2.37.
3.) With Walker Buehler’s no-decision, the Dodgers have gone 25 games without having a starter pitcher lose. The last time it happened was Aug. 11, when Ross Stripling took a defeat against the San Diego Padres.
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