Colorado Rockies pitchers had been wild all night, walking six Dodgers in the first seven innings Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Yet every runner who walked was left on base.
A single and two more walks loaded the bases in the eighth with none out.
And this time walks became runs.
Will Smith continued his torrid hitting, belting a line-drive single to left that scored Max Muncy and Mookie Betts to break a tie. With two out, pinch-hitter AJ Pollock singled to score Justin Turner, and the Dodgers went on to a 5-2 win that kept them 2½ games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
Kenley Jansen retired the Rockies in order in the ninth to notch his 341st save, tying Rollie Fingers for 14th on the all-time list.
After employing stalwarts Julio Urías, Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer to sweep San Diego earlier in the week, the Dodgers were forced to utilize the bullpen early two nights in a row against the Rockies. Corey Knebel opened the game as the first of six pitchers; David Price followed and allowed two runs in 3-2/3 innings.
The Dodgers had tattooed Rockies pitching in 13 meetings entering this series, and if they continued to do so they’d likely have weathered the use of relievers over 18 innings. But after scoring on only two solo home runs Friday night in a 4-2 loss, they had trouble generating offense Saturday against a pitcher they’ve feasted on.
In eight previous starts at Dodger Stadium, Rockies right-hander Jon Gray had been spectacularly ineffective, going 1-6 with a 6.37 earned-run average. The Dodgers had posted a .957 on-base-plus-slugging percentage against him. He also had lost his last four starts overall.
Gray didn’t look much better, although he escaped a bases-loaded situation in the first inning when Cody Bellinger lined out to right. Trea Turner and Muncy began the third the same way they started the first, with Turner hitting a single and Muncy drawing a walk. But Gray was removed with forearm stiffness before the Dodgers could do damage.
Betts walked, but Justin Turner grounded into a double play with Trea Turner scoring and Smith struck out. Chris Taylor hit his 19th home run to tie the score 2-2 in the fourth. Not until walks bled into runs in the eighth did the Dodgers take a lead.
It appears the Dodgers will lean on the bullpen again Sunday with Mitch White expected to be recalled to pitch either as the starter or bulk reliever.
Dodgers fans love it when the Padres lose. And they’ve obliged plenty since the All-Star break. But for seven days in mid-September, anyone pulling for the Dodgers to win the West might root for the Padres.
They play the Giants — the Dodgers’ overnight juggernaut rival to the north — seven times in 11 days beginning Sept. 13.
As woeful as the Padres have been lately, a resurgence by them might be the Dodgers’ best shot at overtaking the Giants (84-45) to capture their ninth consecutive division title. Los Angeles and San Francisco face each other again only in a three-game series at AT&T Park beginning Friday.
“It a shame there’s a team winning even more than us in our division when we have the second-best record in baseball,” reliever Blake Treinen said. “We can only control what we can control and that’s what we are focused on.”
The Padres will be playing with a purpose because they are in a tight race with the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild card. If they can beat the Giants, say, four out of seven, the Dodgers (82-48) would be eternally grateful.
And perhaps they could repay the Padres by winning a three-game series at Cincinnati from Sept. 17-19. Those games are sandwiched between two series against the hapless Arizona Diamondbacks and one with the nearly as hapless but occasionally pesky Rockies.
The result if the Dodgers overcome the Giants? San Diego or Cincinnati would play the Giants in a do-or-die wild-card game to advance to the division series. And if the Giants win the division?
It’d be the Dodgers who face the Padres or Reds in one game to advance.
Where are former Dodgers now?
Max Scherzer and Trea Turner made an immediate and thunderous impact upon donning Dodgers uniforms — including Turner getting three hits and a walk Saturday night.
But how about the players the Dodgers sent to the Washington Nationals in that July 30 trade?
Josiah Gray, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, was thrust into the Nationals’ starting rotation and has fared well, posting a 2.89 ERA over five starts. He’s been consistent, going five or six innings in each start.
The only blemish is that he’s allowed eight homers in 28 innings. Add the four homers he allowed in eight innings with the Dodgers and he’s given up an astounding 12 in 36 innings. He’s given up only 15 earned runs all season, so nearly all of them have come via the long ball.
The Nationals sent catcher Keibert Ruiz, the Dodgers’ top position player prospect before the trade, to triple A. Ruiz, who turned 23 in July, is batting .314 with 21 home runs and 59 RBIs in 71 triple-A games.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source: Yahoo Sports