Walker Buehler returns to All-Star form to help Dodgers keep pace with Giants

Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler pitches during the second inning against the San Diego Padres.
Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler pitches during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium Tuesday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

These were the nights made for Vin Scully. To a previous generation of fans, a Dodgers-Giants pennant stretch meant a transistor radio was a must, as a city listened to Scully call the Dodgers and Giants games simultaneously — the Dodgers live from Los Angeles, the Giants off the ticker from San Francisco.

ESPN had not been invented, and neither had the internet. The score from an out-of-town game was not instantly available to the average fan.

Scully was a dramatic narrator for a city hanging on his every word.

Those days are long gone, of course, and Scully is retired. Any score, anywhere, is a click or two away on your phone.


Everything old is new again: In 1962, the Dodgers led the Giants by two games with five to play, but San Francisco forced a tiebreaker. In 2021, the Giants lead the Dodgers by two games with five to play, with the Dodgers hoping to force a tiebreaker.

At Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 2-1 behind seven shutout innings from Walker Buehler. However, in San Francisco, the Giants maintained their lead with a 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Technology has not eliminated the drama. Instead of a stadium and a city learning every development all at once from Scully, fans can learn by listening, watching, streaming and clicking as they wish. On Tuesday night, fans anxiously followed along as developments flowed from north to south in California, and back again.

Dodgers get five homers, two from Corey Seager, and easily defeat San Diego.

Sept. 30, 2021

At 7:15 in San Francisco, Mike Yastrzemski walked with the bases loaded. The Giants led 1-0.

At 7:26 in Los Angeles, Trea Turner doubled home Mookie Betts. The Dodgers led 1-0.

At 7:38 in San Francisco, Logan Webb gave up a run on a sacrifice fly. The Giants were tied 1-1.


At 8:16 in Los Angeles, AJ Pollock singled home Turner. The Dodgers led 2-0.

The entire state was scoreless for almost an hour. Then, all of a sudden, the score was not so taut up north.

The Giants scored four runs in the sixth inning, taking the lead for good.

The drama tilted toward Dodger Stadium, where Blake Treinen was one out from completing the final inning of what would have been a combined shutout. Jake Cronenworth hit a home run, turning a 2-0 lead into 2-1, and the Padres subsequently got the potential tying run into scoring position before Treinen struck out Tommy Pham to end the game.

Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner avoids the tag of San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado.
Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner avoids the tag of San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado during a first inning rundown at Dodger Stadium.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Beyond the result, the Dodgers could take enormous comfort from the performance of Buehler.

Buehler had faded from the Cy Young conversation as September went on, posting a 7.32 earned-run average in four starts. If Sunday counts for the Dodgers, if they have a chance to catch the Giants — or pass them — Buehler is the scheduled starter.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, Buehler’s final September start resembled the first five months of his All-Star season. Buehler said he simplified his pitch selection — more four-seam fastballs — and ironed out some mechanical issues.


“I felt a lot more like myself tonight,” he said.

In the fourth inning, Buehler reached the 200-strikeout mark, the ninth NL pitcher to get there this season.

In the fifth inning, he reached the 200-inning mark, for the first time in his career. He became the first Dodgers pitcher to get there since 2015, when Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke both did so.

Buehler also took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Eric Hosmer broke it up with an infield single, 16 days after he broke up Max Scherzer’s perfect game with an eighth-inning double.

Buehler gave up three hits. He set a career high with his 15th victory.

Jaime Jarrín, who has been the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcaster since 1959, announced that 2022 will be his final season behind the microphone.

Sept. 28, 2021

He also lowered his ERA to 2.49, third in the NL behind teammate Scherzer (2.28) and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Corbin Burnes (2.29)

The Dodgers already are in the playoffs, Buehler reminded everyone. Their hope of a ninth consecutive division title might be dim, but for now it remains unclaimed.


“This thing’s not over,” Buehler said, “until it’s over.”