Walker Buehler shuts down Marlins to complete sweep for Dodgers
The Dodgers took the field Sunday fresh off wins over the Miami Marlins the previous two nights. But those victories were not befitting of matchups between the team with the best record in the National League and the club with the worst mark. On Friday, they squeaked by the last-place club, nearly wasting another strong outing by Hyun-Jin Ryu. On Saturday, their bullpen and defense fumbled away a six-run lead before the offense played savior again.
On Sunday, they sought a clean, decisive win. They got one by a 9-0 score to complete their first sweep of the Marlins at Dodger Stadium since 2003.
“It’s always good to have a game like that,” infielder Max Muncy said.
Muncy was the first to inflict damage on Jordan Yamamoto with a two-run home run in the first inning. The Dodgers (67-35) chased the promising rookie right-hander after four innings before preying on the Marlins’ bullpen. Joc Pederson, who made his first start in right field, and A.J. Pollock also homered to tally seven of the Dodgers’ nine runs via homers. Enrique Hernández doubled one home in the fourth inning and Pollock supplied a run-scoring single in the fifth.
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler, meanwhile, submitted seven scoreless innings. He surrendered five hits, struck out 11 and walked none, further decreasing his league-best walk rate. He allowed two runners to reach second base. He departed with a 6-0 lead and, unlike Saturday, the bullpen didn’t squander the 6-0 advantage. Casey Sadler and Caleb Ferguson each provided a scoreless inning to seal the Dodgers’ 40th win in 52 home games.
“Just getting ahead of guys all day,” Roberts said of Buehler. “The called strike, the swing-and-miss. He could essentially do whatever he wanted today.”
Yamamoto was one of four prospects the Marlins (36-61) acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Christian Yelich two winters ago. Yelich went on to become the National League MVP and is building a case to win the award again. The trade, so far, has been a heist for the Brewers. Yamamoto’s emergence, however, has softened the blow for Miami.
From team president Andrew Friedman to closer Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers acknowledge the need to trade for bullpen help. The cost in prospects will be steep.
He’s been one of the few bright spots in another dismal Marlins season. He entered Sunday having allowed six earned runs and 15 hits in 34 innings over his first six starts. Just three had gone for extra bases. None were home runs.
That zero was spoiled quickly Sunday. Four batters into Yamamoto’s outing, Muncy cracked a two-run home run to left-center field. It was his 26th homer this season. Eight players across the majors have hit more. Pederson matched Muncy in the third, whacking a fastball over the right-field wall for another two-run shot to double the Dodgers’ lead. It was his 23rd. All have come against right-handers.
Yamamoto exited after the fourth inning, giving up five runs on four hits. Wei-Yin Chen took his place and the Dodgers scored a run off him in the fifth. The Dodgers tacked on three more in the seventh when A.J. Pollock lifted a flyball off right-hander Tayron Guerrero that carried over the wall in right field. It was Pollock’s fourth home run in nine games since coming off the injured list July 12. He batted .223 with a .617 OPS and two homers in 28 games before landing on the injured list in April.
“I’m in a better position to hit, posture wise, mechanically,” said Pollock, who is hitting .406 since his return. “And then the other thing is I just feel like i have better rhythm to my game. I just feel like I’m in a better place.”
Buehler had just completed his outing when Pollock applied the finishing touches. The right-hander threw 94 pitches. He tossed 71 strikes and accumulated 23 swing-and-misses, tying his season-high total. His final pitch was a 96-mph fastball rifled past Jorge Alfaro to end a three-pitch at-bat and the seventh inning. Buehler held his leg up for an extra second after the overwhelmed Alfaro whiffed, and strutted off the mound with his ninth win, bullpen willing, all sewn up.
Catcher Russell Martin made his season debut at third base in the ninth inning. Martin started 16 games at third for the Toronto Blue Jays last season. Martin’s insertion at third base shifted Justin Turner over to second base for the first time in four years. . . . Dodgers prospect Keibert Ruiz made his debut for triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday. The 21-year-old catcher batted .254 with four home runs and a .659 OPS in 76 games for double-A Tulsa. Ruiz is the Dodgers’ third-ranked prospect, according to Baseball America.
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