Dodgers win on Chris Taylor’s walkoff two-run homer

Chris Taylor reacts while running the bases after his walkoff home run.
Chris Taylor reacts while running the bases after his walkoff home run.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Chris Taylor hits a two-run homer to left to put the Dodgers in the NLDS against the Giants.

The Dodgers get past the scariest game of the postseason to advance to the NLDS.

Dodgers win 3-1 on Chris Taylor’s walkoff homer

Cardinals: Right-hander Kenley Jansen now pitching for the Dodgers. DeJong, proving the rule that if you make a great defensive play you will lead off the next inning, struck out swinging. Edman singled to right. Edman stole second. Goldschmidt struck out looking. O’Neill struck out swinging.

Dodgers: Gavin Lux, batting for Jansen, was announced. With that announcement, left-hander TJ McFarland comes in to pitch. And that means Albert Pujols will hit for Lux. Pujols lined to center. Steven Souza Jr., batting for McKinney, lined to center. Bellinger walked on six pitches. And that’s it for McFarland. Right-hander Alex Reyes now pitching for the Cardinals. He lost his job as closer this season. Bellinger stole second. Taylor homered to left.

Final score: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 1


We go to the ninth, 1-1

Cardinals: Billy McKinney in at first base. Carlson singled to left. He singled against the shift. Molina flied to left. Running on the pitch, Carlson touched second. The Dodgers asked for a replay review to see if he retouched second on his way back to first. All replays shows on TBS showed he didn’t touch second again. So naturally he was called safe. Sosa hit a liner to left with a lot of topspin, Taylor make a lunging catch. That’s it for Treinen. Right-hander Corey Knebel now pitching for the Dodgers. Bader struck out swinging.

Dodgers: Right-hander Giovanny Gallegos now pitching for the Cardinals. Paul DeJong in at short. Seager struck out swinging. T.Turner singled to left. J.Turner struck out swinging. Smith lined to short.

Score after eight: Dodgers 1, Cardinals 1


Dodgers bullpen keeping game tied

So far, Dave Roberts’ decision to turn to his bullpen early has worked out.

After Joe Kelly escaped the fifth-inning jam, Brusdar Graterol and Blake Treinen posted scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, respectively.

The three relievers have combined to retire eight of 10 batters, yielding only one walk and a hit-by-pitch.

Here are the arms still left in the bullpen as the game hits the seventh inning stretch: Kenley Jansen, Corey Knebel, Alex Vesia, Phil Bickford, Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urías, the latter of whom Roberts said he didn’t want to use until at the least the eighth inning if he had to.


Still 1-1 after seven innings

Cardinals: Right-hander Blake Treinen now pitching for the Dodgers. Chris Taylor in left. Pollock out. Edman struck out swinging. Goldschmidt grounded to short. O’Neill walked on five pitches. O’Neill stole second. Arenado fouled to first.

Dodgers: Beaty grounded to second. Bellinger singled to right. Taylor popped to first. Bellinger stole second. Betts flied to center.

Score after seven: Dodgers 1, Cardinals 1


It’s still 1-1 after six innings

Cardinals: Right-hander Brusdar Graterol now pitching for the Dodgers. Molina grounded to third. Sosa grounded to second. Beaty was hit by a pitch, again. Wainwright grounded to the pitcher.

Dodgers: Seager grounded to short. T.Turner hit a slow bouncer up third and easily reached first. Arenado didn’t even make a throw. And that’s it for Wainwright. Right-hander Luis Garcia now pitching for the Cardinals. J.Turner lined to left. Smith walked on six pitches. First and second, two out. Pollock grounded to the pitcher.

Score after six innings: Dodgers 1, Cardinals 1


Max Scherzer gets early hook, but Dodgers escape fifth-inning jam

Max Scherzer made his shortest postseason start since 2011, exiting the wild card game after only 4 1/3 innings.

After laboring early, Scherzer finally seemed to find the feel for his slider over the final couple innings, retiring six of seven batters during the third and fourth innings.

But then Tommy Edman hit a flare single to leadoff the fifth and Paul Goldschmidt worked a walk in the next at-bat, with Scherzer missing the zone with his fastball three times.

Scherzer struck out Tyler O’Neill in the next at-bat, but, with his pitch count at 94, manager Dave Roberts decided to turn to the bullpen.

Scherzer, who had completed at least five inning in 15 straight playoff starts entering the night, didn’t look pleased when Roberts emerged from the dugout to remove him from the game, shaking Roberts’ hand when it looked like the manager was asking for the ball.

The move, however, worked out, with reliever Joe Kelly escaping the jam by inducing a grounder from Nolan Arenado and striking out Dylan Carlson.

From the dugout, Scherzer celebrated the inning-ending whiff with an emphatic slap of the top rail.

Scherzer’s final line: 4 1/3 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts.


It’s still 1-1 after five innings

Cardinals: Edman had a broken-bat single to right-center. Goldschmidt walked on six pitches. O’Neill struck out swinging. And that’s it for Max Scherzer. Right-hander Joe Kelly is now pitching for the Dodgers. Arenado grounded to third, forcing Edman at third. First and second, two out. Goldschmidt took third on a wild pitch. Carlson struck out swinging.

Dodgers: Bellinger struck out swinging. Luke Raley, batting for Kelly, struck out swinging. Betts grounded to third.

Score after five: Dodgers 1, Cardinals 1


Justin Turner adds to postseason resume with game-tying homer

For all Justin Turner has accomplished with the Dodgers, his performance in the playoffs have been among the most impressive.

In 72 career playoff games entering Wednesday (all with the Dodgers), Turner had a .295 average (five points better than his career regular-season average), .899 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (62 points better than his regular-season career), and 12 home runs (most in Dodgers franchise history).

Then, he delivered again with his fourth inning, game-tying solo shot to left field, which came against a hanging 2-and-2 curveball that Wainwright left over the heart of the plate.


Breaking down the Dodgers missed bases-loaded opportunity in the third

In the bottom of the third, Adam Wainwright suddenly lost command of his curveball — including on the very last pitch of the inning.

But, after walking two batters earlier in the inning and missing with three other curveballs earlier in his bases-loaded at-bat against Trea Turner, Wainwright caught a break.

Turner swung at a curveball well off the plate, breaking his bat on a double-play grounder that ended the inning.

The Dodgers have now put eight balls in play (excluding a sac bunt by Max Scherzer earlier in the inning). They’ve swung on pitches outside the zone on five of them, each resulting in an out.

The three pitches in the zone they’ve put in play: Two singles by Mookie Betts and a deep flyout by Matt Beaty.


Dodgers tie it 1-1 on Justin Turner’s homer

Cardinals: Molina grounded to second. Sosa grounded to the pitcher. Bader was hit by a pitch on a full count. Wainwright struck out swinging.

Dodgers: Justin Turner homered to left, estimated at 401 feet. Smith struck out looking. It appeared to be a ball. Pollock struck out swinging. Beaty popped to the catcher.

Score after four: Dodgers 1, Cardinals 1


Dodgers waste big chance in bottom of third, trail 1-0

Cardinals: Goldschmidt singled to right. O’Neill struck out swinging. Arenado grounded to first, forcing Goldschmidt. Carlson bounced to first. Nice fielding by Beaty this inning.

Dodgers: Cody Bellinger walked on four pitches. Max Scherzer sacrificed. Betts hit a looper up the middle that Sosa should have caught, but didn’t. Bellinger had to hold second. First and second, one out. With Seager up, TBS puts up a graphic that says Seager hit .325 with runners in scoring position this season. Meanwhile, Ron Darling at the same time says Seager hit .338 with runners in scoring position this season. Seager walked on six pitches, loading the bases with one out. T.Turner grounded into a 4-3 double play.

Score after three: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0


Adam Wainwright off to strong start for Cardinals

While Max Scherzer has labored through two innings, Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright blanked the Dodgers’ through two innings on only 30 pitches.

A couple early keys for the 40-year-old right-hander: He’s locating his sinker, and feeding the Dodgers a steady diet of his trademark curveball.

The latter could be especially problematic for the Dodgers, who this year ranked just 17th in the majors in batting average on curveballs (.209) and 23rd in slugging percentage against the pitch (.313).

The Dodgers have also chased some pitches in the first couple innings. While they’ve only whiffed on one swing, four of their five outs on balls in play came on pitches that weren’t in the strike zone.


Max Scherzer battling high pitch count, early command issues through first two innings

Since arriving in LA, Max Scherzer has rarely struggled to find the zone. In his 11 regular season starts with the Cardinals, Scherzer walked only eight batters and threw strikes 68% of the time.

Though two innings tonight, however, the right-hander has already walked two batters and throw 43 pitches, of which only 27 have been in the zone.

So far, it has only led to one run, with Scherzer stranding a couple runners in the first and another in the second.

But, five of the Cardinals first 10 at-bats have already lasted at least five pitches, and four have included a three-ball count.


Still 1-0 Cardinals after top of the second

Cardinals: Edmundo Sosa struck out swinging. Harrison Bader walked on six pitches. Adam Wainwright sacrificed. Scherzer does not have pinpoint control this game. Edman flied to left. Scherzer has thrown 43 pitches through two innings

Dodgers: Will Smith grounded up the middle. Edman made a sliding catch, went to one knee and threw him out. Beautiful play. AJ Pollock popped to short. Matt Beaty flied to right.

Score after two: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0


Cardinals take 1-0 lead in first inning

Cardinals: Right-hander Max Scherzer pitching for the Dodgers. Mute button ready because the TBS announcers are awful. Tommy Edman singled to right. Edman stole second as Smith’s throw tailed away from the runner. Paul Goldschmidt walked on six pitches. Tyler O’Neill fouled to right. Betts made a nice catch right at the fence. Edman took third. Edman scored and Goldschmidt moved to third on a wild pitch. Smith didn’t shift at all and the ball bounced off him. Nolan Arenado flied to left. Dylan Carlson reached first on Seager’s fielding error. He couldn’t get the ball out of his glove in time. Yadier Molina flied to left.

Dodgers: Right-hander Adam Wainwright pitching for the Cardinals. Mookie Betts singled off the shortstop’s glove. Corey Seager struck out looking. Trea Turner grounded to short, forcing Betts. Justin Turner lined right at the pitcher and Wainwright snatched it for the out.

Score after one: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0


Dodgers refuse to lament their playoff lot despite franchise-record-tying 106-win season

The playoff format did no favors this season for the Dodgers, who finished with the second-best record in baseball and tied a franchise record with 106 wins but were relegated to a single-elimination wild-card game because they finished one game behind the 107-win San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

But as Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer said on Tuesday, “There is no crying in baseball—we’re in second place; we’re in the wild-card game,” and neither the Dodgers nor St. Louis Cardinals were in the mood to lament their lot before Wednesday night’s game.

“It’s a whole ordeal in itself, but I can’t change it right now,” Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts said. “We’ll just kind of see what happens going forward. There’s going to be a lot of great seasons that teams don’t make the playoffs in or are put in this spot. It doesn’t really matter. You have to win the division. We’ll see how the format changes or if it does. If it does, cool. If it doesn’t, that’s fine, too.”

Baseball expanded the playoffs in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when 16 teams—eight from each league—reached the post-season, with teams opening with a best-of-three wild-card round before advancing to the best-of-five division series and best-of-seven championship series and World Series.

The sport reverted back to its 10-team playoff format this season, with the three division winners from each league advancing to the division series and two wild-card teams playing a win-or-go-home game to advance.

Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expires this winter, and owners are expected to seek expanded playoffs in negotiations for a new deal.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt, whose team won 16 fewer games than the Dodgers, was asked what he would do if he were baseball commissioner.

“Yeah, you know, we play with what we have,” Shildt said. “We’ll take a one-shot deal. It’s like a Game 5 or a Game 7, so view it as such. If I were king for the day, I would probably prefer it to be a three-game series, but it’s a one-gamer and we’re excited and glad to be here.”

The Dodgers lost Game 7 of the 2017 World Series to the Houston Astros and won three elimination games against the Atlanta Braves in last October’s NL Championship Series before beating Tampa Bay in a six-game World Series.

“It’s different in the sense of, it’s one-game—there’s no guarantee for the next day,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the wild-card game. “There’s a no-tomorrow mindset. … But I think overall, it was actually really easy [to prepare]. Because from Day One, all we’ve talked about is winning one game. And so here we are, we just gotta win one game.”


Dave Roberts breaks down roster decisions ahead of wild card game

Dave Roberts will manage in his first wild card game on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

In his six seasons at Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts has experienced almost everything the postseason has to offer.

The lone exception: A winner-take-all wild card game, with the Dodgers’ Wednesday showdown against the St. Louis Cardinals marking the club’s first appearance in the event since it was created in 2012.

Pregame, Roberts said preparing for the wild card game wasn’t too dissimilar from past Game 7’s he’s managed.

He noted the trickiest part, especially in the wake of first baseman Max Muncy’s injury, was setting the lineup and roster.

Without Muncy, the Dodgers decided to start Matt Beaty at first base, a left-handed hitter who had started only once during the final month of the regular season.

Roberts said Beaty, who will bat seventh, was the choice for several reasons.

Defensively, it keeps Cody Bellinger, one of the other options to play at first, at his more valuable position in center field.

With Max Scherzer on the mound against a right-handed heavy Cardinals lineup, Roberts said he expects the most defensive action to be in the outfield and left side of the infield.

Beaty, a left-handed hitter who batted .270 this season, was also the best matchup option at the plate against right-handed Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright.

“Matt has swung the bat well,” Roberts said. “[We can] have him take a couple at-bats against Wainwright and then potentially pivot out of that if we need to.”

Albert Pujols was the other contender for first base, but Roberts said he wanted to save Pujols’ right-handed bat in case there is a chance for him to face a left-handed Cardinals reliever later in the game.

First base wasn’t the only area the Dodgers had to make roster decisions for Wednesday.

The team’s lineup includes a string of four-straight right-handed hitters between the third and sixth spots, ending with left fielder AJ Pollock, and back-to-back lefties with Beaty and Bellinger batting seventh and eighth respectively.

Roberts said batting Pollock sixth, and giving him potentially more chances to come to the plate, was more important than varying lefties and righties.

He also noted he’ll have options available on the bench — including Pujols, Chris Taylor and Gavin Lux — to combat the Cardinals bullpen moves.

“I think having AJ sixth today gives us the best chance to win,” Roberts said.

Two of the biggest snubs from the wild card game roster were left-handed pitchers David Price and Justin Bruihl. Roberts said the Cardinals’ right-handed heavy lineup factored into those decisions.

One other important note from Roberts’ pregame media session: He said he doesn’t foresee using left-handed pitcher Julio Urías before the eighth inning, if he’s needed.

Urías pitched crucial innings out of the bullpen last postseason, but excelled as a starting pitcher this season and is lined up to start Game 2 of the NLDS if the Dodgers advance.


Matt Beaty gets start at first base for Dodgers

One of the big questions surrounding the Dodgers entering their Wild Card Game against the Cardinals was who would play first base in Max Muncy’s place. The answer arrived just after 1 p.m. It’ll be Matt Beaty.

Muncy suffered a significant left elbow injury in Sunday’s regular season finale. The Dodgers have maintained that they’re hopeful that he could return later in the postseason but that prospect appears unlikely.

Without Muncy, the Dodgers had Beaty, Cody Bellinger and Albert Pujols as options to start at first base. Beaty, a left-handed hitter, got the nod over the right-handed-hitting Pujols. Beaty will bat seventh.

Bellinger, meanwhile, will start in center field. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday that the club would prioritize outfield defense with Max Scherzer, a flyball pitcher, on the mound. Bellinger is the team’s best center fielder.

AJ Pollock will start in left field, leaving Gavin Lux and Chris Taylor on the bench. The Dodgers’ will carry 16 position players on their roster so the team will have eight bench players.

The Dodgers will oppose Adam Wainwright, who pitched into the ninth inning against them Sept. 8 in St. Louis. Max Scherzer will toe the rubber for Los Angeles. The midseason acquisition logged eight scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts against the Cardinals on Sept 6.

Tommy Edman 2B
Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Tyler O’Neill LF
Nolan Arenado 3B
Dylan Carlson RF
Yadier Molina C
Edmundo Sosa SS
Harrison Bader CF
Adam Wainwright P

Mookie Betts RF
Corey Seager SS
Trea Turner 2B
Justin Turner 3B
Will Smith C
AJ Pollock LF
Matt Beaty 1B
Cody Bellinger CF
Max Scherzer P


Dodgers have played 16 winner-take-all playoff games. Here’s the story of each one

Sandy Koufax, Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw pitcher, is seen in action.
Sandy Koufax during the World Series against the Minnesota Twins.
(Associated Press)

In 2021 the Los Angeles Dodgers tied a franchise record for victories (106). They had the largest run differential in the majors by 59 runs. They won 16 more games, and outscored their opponents by 225 more runs, than the St. Louis Cardinals, their foe in Wednesday night’s play-in wildcard game. They have won their last 15 games in Dodger Stadium, site of the play-in game.

They are a wrecking ball.

On a Los Angeles radio show Monday evening, former Dodger great and TV analyst Orel Hershiser left no doubt about his belief that the Dodgers will dominate any five- or seven-game series. But a one-game tiebreaker that stands between Los Angeles and those five- and seven-game series? That, Hershiser explained, is where the baseball gods—or randomness if you’re an atheist about these things—get to meddling. Even the worst baseball teams defeat the best ones several times a season.

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Dodgers’ wild-card roster: Price left off, with Urías and Gonsolin available out of bullpen

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias (7) throws during a baseball game.
Julio Urias
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Dodgers loaded their wild-card roster with 16 position players, leaving the club with 10 pitchers for their elimination game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

David Price isn’t one of them. The left-hander, who was paid $32 million to be a reliever this season, was left off the roster. Alex Vesia and Julio Urías will be the two left-handed pitchers available out of the bullpen. Urías last pitched Saturday. The Dodgers would prefer not using him tonight so he’d be 100% available to start Game 2 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, if they get that far.

In addition to Urías, Tony Gonsolin will be available to log multiple innings out of the bullpen.

The roster, which includes eight right-handed hitters and eight left-handed hitters, can be changed if the Dodgers advance to the division series.

Infielder/outfielder Billy McKinney, infielder Zach McKinstry, and outfielders Luke Raley and Steven Souza Jr. were put on the roster after finishing the regular season with triple-A Oklahoma City. The Dodgers selected Souza Jr.’s contract to put him on the 40-man roster.


Max Muncy says it felt ‘like my arm wasn’t there’ in describing injury

Max Muncy, right, talks to manager Dave Roberts, center, and pitcher Clayton Kershaw during a workout Tuesday.
Max Muncy, right, talks to manager Dave Roberts, center, and pitcher Clayton Kershaw during a workout Tuesday.
(Associated Press)

No matter how frightening Max Muncy’s left elbow injury seemed to those watching Sunday’s game in Dodger Stadium or on television, it felt a lot worse to the man who suffered it.

“It was a very scary moment,” the Dodgers first baseman said during Tuesday’s workout in advance of Wednesday night’s National League wild-card game against the St. Louis Cardinals. “I definitely felt like my arm wasn’t there. Thankfully, things aren’t as bad as they could have been.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Muncy’s ulnar collateral ligament is intact and that the slugger won’t require surgery, but Muncy could be sidelined for the entire postseason.

He was injured on a play that started with Milwaukee infielder Jace Peterson’s dribbler in front of the plate in the third inning of Sunday’s 10-3 win by the Dodgers. Catcher Will Smith grabbed the ball, but his off-balance throw veered inside of the bag, forcing Muncy to stick his left arm out as Peterson sprinted down the line.

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Dodgers looking for detailed performance from Max Scherzer in wild-card game

Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

It was a moment of levity rooted in seriousness. Major League Baseball clubs wage information wars for every game. Data points are treated as state secrets. And no game is more important, more down-to-the-gritty-details than an elimination contest.

So, no, Adam Wainwright, the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher tasked to silence the Dodgers’ offense in Wednesday night’s National League wild-card game at Dodger Stadium, wasn’t going to answer whether he will glean anything from his dominant start against them Sept. 8. He wasn’t going to say whether that outing in St. Louis, back when the Dodgers were fighting for the NL West title and the Cardinals were playoff afterthoughts, will affect his game plan or approach. He wasn’t going to say anything.

“Those guys over there, they listen to these things,” Wainwright said Tuesday with a smile. “I’m just going to throw fastballs right down the middle.”

The Dodgers would love a few of those. A few mistakes from the 40-year-old Wainwright would help them to avoid having their season end in a few hours and make their successful regular season moot. The Dodgers won 106 of their 162 games, matching a franchise record. But they still didn’t win the NL West for the first time since 2012, relegating them to a do-or-die scenario.

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A look at the National League wild-card matchup

Pitching matchup: Dodgers right-hander Max Scherzer (15-4, 2.46 ERA) vs. Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright (17-7, 3.05 ERA).

What’s at stake: Winner advances to the best-of-five NL Division Series against the San Francisco Giants. Loser is eliminated.

How they got here: The Dodgers (106-56) clinched a playoff spot Sept. 14 and tied a franchise record for wins with a torrid 43-13 record since Aug. 1, but their eight-year reign as NL West champions ended when they fell one game short of the 107-win Giants. The Cardinals (90-72) reeled off a franchise-record 17 straight victories from Sept. 11 to Sept. 28 and clinched the second wild-card berth Sept. 28.

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