Monday evening’s series opener in Arizona had every indication it would be a pitcher’s duel. Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw took the mound against the hot-handed Robbie Ray – the two southpaw’s battled over 5+ innings with Kershaw ultimately getting the upper hand.
In the 1st, the Dodgers’ offense looked to be carrying over the momentum from the San Diego series. Singles from Chris Taylor and David Freese would be enough to push the first run of the game across, and two consecutive walks would then load the bases. Despite the prime scoring opportunity, Kemp and Dozier would fail to capitalize. Still, the damage to Ray’s pitch count would ultimately shift the game in the Dodgers favor.
Despite not having Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta in the lineup, it was apparent that the Diamondback’s offense wasn’t going to make things easy for Kershaw. After quickly tying up the game with an RBI triple, Kershaw was forced to pitch his way out of a one-out jam. A strikeout and slick defensive play by Justin Turner kept Ketel Marte from putting the Diamondbacks ahead.
In the 3rd, Marte struck again. This time he belted Clayton’s fastball 455ft into the centerfield bleachers, shifting the lead in Arizona’s favor 2 – 1.
On the offensive side, the Dodgers looked unable to solve Robbie Ray. Ray limited them to just 1 hit and struck out four in innings 2 through 4. However, in the 5th, with his pitch count climbing, Ray left an elevated fastball over the heart of the plate and David Freese tied the game up with a solo shot into right.
Mr. Freese. pic.twitter.com/4Ou4kWZflk
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 25, 2018
In the 6th, the Diamondbacks were forced to reach into their troubled bullpen – the offense feasted. The Dodgers tacked on two runs in the 7th (courtesy of Muncy and Machado) to take the lead and added another three insurance runs in the top of the 9th after a wild pitch and RBI double.
After giving up another home run in the 6th, Kershaw handed the ball over to the capable Caleb Ferguson, who would work a clean inning. In the 8th, Caleb made way for the tandem of Scott Alexander and Kenta Maeda. After an uneventful two outs, Kenta lost control of a fastball to right-hander Christian Walker and the entire stadium held their collective breath. The 93mph fastball caught Walker just inside of his face guard, and he was left writhing on the ground with blood dripping from his mouth. Eventually, Walker managed to walk off the field on his own strength – a positive sign in spite of the grizzly visual.
Hoping for the best for Christian Walker. pic.twitter.com/DNd41hkBru
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) September 25, 2018
The Dodgers would take a 7 – 3 lead into the bottom of the 9th, and look to Kenley Jansen to close things out. The insurance would prove to be key; Kenley allowed a home run to leadoff hitter AJ Pollock. Still, Kenley worked through the rest of the 9th cleanly, adding a pair of strikeouts en route to the Dodgers 7 – 4 victory – to maintain their 1.5 game NL West lead and shrink the magic number to 5.
Dodgers’ ROY candidate Walker Buehler will take the mound in game two of the series, facing off against Arizona’s Matt Koch. Buehler’s coming off a stellar start against Colorado, where he went 6 innings without allowing a run.
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