LOS ANGELES — Zach Gallen pumped his fist and let out a guttural roar. A third straight curveball caught Freddie Freeman off guard, looping a third down the middle to help the Diamondbacks’ ace escape the threat of a fifth-inning run in the Dodgers’ vaunted lineup. The upstart wild-card team, which is running through two MVP candidates and moving a fast attack, is one win away from the National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers’ starting pitching once again put them in early position.
The Dodgers offense once again tried to cover up the flaws in its rotation, but mostly came up short, with multiple chances to tie or take the lead.
Once again, the second-place team in the NFC West is about to beat the NFC division champion.
“We heard it,” Diamondbacks manager Tori Lovullo said. “We heard we could be like a little brother that everyone could beat up on. We took it personally. We accept it.”
That’s certainly the case heading into two games in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, who hold a 16-game lead in the division.
After scoring six runs in the first inning of Game 1, the Diamondbacks had an easier time in Game 2: They scored just three runs.
Arizona’s early onslaught against Clayton Kershaw was powerful and overwhelming on Saturday. Monday’s second sudden D-back salvo was more calculated and patient.
The Dodgers’ rotation is depleted heading into the series, but they’ll look to rely on Kershaw and Miller, who is making his postseason debut. Miller has made great strides this year in controlling his emotions and strike zone to not let the game speed up, but the D-back immediately put that to the test.
They outlasted the rookies with a productive set of innings, highlighted by a walk by Corbin Carroll, a bunt single by Ketel Marte, singles by Tommy Pham and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Christian Walker A sacrifice fly and an RBI to start tonight’s game off a grounder by Gabriel Moreno that might have been an inning-ending double had Van not stolen second base.
As a result, the Dodgers were suddenly in the position of being out of the playoffs early after Monday’s 4-2 loss, and the Dodgers were in trouble early on that they couldn’t handle.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hits solo homer in Defenders’ 4-2 win over Dodgers
“There’s definitely going to be a fight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s always been that way. But it also comes down to results.”
In every game, the Dodgers were at a significant disadvantage heading into the first at-bat. The Dodgers’ two starting pitchers allowed nine runs, walked three, struck out one, and needed 87 pitches to get six outs. Unlike Game 1, however, the Dodgers were always within striking distance Monday night.
The bullpen kept them in; the offense never happened.
With Game 2 sandwiched between off days, the Dodgers can utilize a plethora of relievers without having to worry too much about workload. Roberts didn’t have to wait long. Miller was ejected after throwing 52 pitches in 1.2 innings, leaving two runners on in the second inning. Brusdal Graterol took it from there.
Graterol’s 23 relief appearances were as many as the Dodgers’ two starting pitchers in the series combined. The Dodgers’ bullpen bought time for the offense to cheer the 51,449 fans in attendance. When Graterol left the mound with two outs in the fourth inning, he clapped his gloves on his way to the dugout and implored fans to stay on the field even though the offense had yet to break through.
“It’s just about keeping those positive vibes, that positive energy,” Graterol said through a translator.
This seems to have had an impact.
In the bottom of the inning, J.D. Martinez hit a solo home run to cut the deficit to two runs. While the Dodgers had a chance against Gallen and the Diamondbacks bullpen, it was never going to be any closer than this.
In the fifth inning, the Dodgers sent out two runners and one out, giving the lineup to Mookie Betts and Freeman. Bates grounded out. Gallen led off Freeman and then threw two curveballs down the zone. Freeman didn’t bite, but he didn’t expect the third, which fell off the middle because Freeman’s bat was still stuck to his shoulder. Galen understood the significance and pumped his fist several times before sliding back into the dugout.
Betts and Freeman, the catalysts in the Dodgers lineup, went 1-for-13 in the series with three walks.
“That’s not what we need to do,” Freeman said.
Still, the Dodgers would get another chance an inning later, prompting them to bravely call on Lovullo.
Gallen again hit base on two of the Dodgers’ first three batters. Lovullo struck his ace in 84 pitches, turning to rookie left-hander Andrew Saalfrank to force a line change in Los Angeles. Chris Taylor loaded the bases in place of Jason Heyward and walked. Kiké Hernández replaced David Peralta and had an infield RBI single. The base is still full. The Dodgers trailed by two runs again. They’ll be stuck there again.
“Obviously, I don’t like to get out, especially in the middle of an inning, especially in the sixth inning when I feel like I’m pitching well,” Gallen said. “But Torrey has it laid out for me, just before the inning and after the inning, and I get it. It’s October. If he feels like this puts us in the best position to win, I get it.” No problem. . I think it succeeded. “
Salfranc went 3-1 behind James Outman and had nowhere to go, but he struck out the Dodgers rookie with two sinkers in the bottom of the zone. Ryan Thompson came in and induced Kolten Wong on a grounder. The Dodgers’ bench was empty except for backup catcher Austin Barnes. Their last greatest threat was eliminated.
“Inning five and six, I don’t think a lot of us are going to be able to sleep tonight,” Freeman said. “The few pitches I missed would keep me up.”
The Dodgers offense has scored 11 runs in their two regular season starts against Galen this season. October is different, which is an all-too-common thing for this series.
Last postseason, the Dodgers offense went 5-for-34 with runners in scoring position, and the Padres beat them in the NLDS. This year, the Dodgers are 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Another 100-win season is coming to an end after one series.
Now, needing a three-game winning streak to prevent another NLDS disappointment against the D-backs, they head home confident.
“The job isn’t done yet,” said Gallen, whose team led 2-0. “What Kobe said – is there anything to be happy about, really?”
Rowan Cavner Covering the Dodgers and MLB overall for Fox Sports. He previously served as editor of Dodgers digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter: @rowankavner.
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