Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said prior to Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks he was going to monitor Alex Wood’s pitch count. The left-hander took the mound only 1.2 innings shy of tying his career high of 171.2 innings pitched, set last season with the Atlanta Braves.
Wood got off to an ominous start as leadoff hitter Nick Ahmed worked a full count before striking out looking to open the game. However, Wood wound up needing just 10 pitches to get through the first frame, which set a precedent for the night.
Bouncing back from allowing eight runs (six earned) on eight hits in just 1.2 when he last faced the Diamondbacks on Sept. 11, Wood allowed just one hit through the first three innings. A scorching double hit by a diving Alex Guerrero at third base led to Arizona taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
As the Dodgers struggled to hit Robbie Ray, Wood held the Diamondbacks to just the one run until A.J. Pollock’s one-out, solo home run that knocked him out of the game at just 79 pitches. “He’s a pretty good hitter. It was a good pitch. I came back and looked at it. He might have been waiting for it and he put a good swing on it,” Wood said of the home run.
The seventh inning meant a third time facing the Diamondbacks lineup on the night, which is something the Dodgers haven’t often let Wood do — much to his chagrin.
“I really kicked myself for letting him have Pollock,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly of allowing Wood to pitch the seventh inning. “But at that point, as good as he’d pitched we couldn’t take him out.”
Although the 24-year-old left-hander suffered a loss that dropped him to 11-11 on the season and 4-5 in 10 starts with the Dodgers, the outing was another encouraging one for Wood, who hasn’t thrown a bullpen session between starts in roughly one month.
“I feel good. I’ve tried to make a conscious effort this last month to work on taking care of my body,” he said. “Making the adjustments necessary to feel good when I go out there every five days. It’s been working here as of late and hopefully I get to finish strong heading into the playoffs.”
In lieu of between-starts bullpen session, Wood is throwing on flat ground and focused on remaining consistent. “It’s been working, so hopefully it will continue down the stretch,” he said. With the regular season winding down and the Dodgers mindful of Wood’s workload, it’s not something the North Carolina native is focused on. “That’s above my head.
“I’m just worried about going out there and putting up zeros,” Wood said. “That’s all I’m worried about. I take the ball every fifth day and go out there and give my best effort. After that, it’s out of my hands.”
Wood’s remaining scheduled starts are Sept. 27 against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, and Oct. 2 against the San Diego Padres at home.