Dodgers pushed to the brink of elimination after 4-2 loss to Diamondbacks in Game 2 of the NLDS – NBC Los Angeles

on Oct10
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All year long, the narrative was the same: the Los Angeles Dodgers don’t have the starting pitching to win the World Series.

Sure, they had plenty of young talented arms in the farm system, but they weren’t ready for the big stage yet. They were too inexperienced to win in October.

So needing a win to even their best-of-five National League Division Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers turned to 24-year-old rookie Bobby Miller.

If 16-year veteran Clayton Kershaw couldn’t get it done in Game 1, then certainly the hard-throwing rookie would be able to, right?

Not exactly.

There was some validity to that narrative, as winning in the postseason is a lot different than winning in the regular season. Something the Dodgers have learned a lot over the last eleven years.

Miller, dominant for most of the season, was a disaster when it mattered the most. He allowed three runs in the first inning, and the Diamondbacks held on to beat the Dodgers 4-2 in Game 2 of the NLDS to push Los Angeles to the brink of elimination.

“Physically, it was probably the best I’ve ever felt,” said Miller. “I got a little too jumpy out there and it caused my command to get a little worse. My offspeed wasn’t competitive today. I didn’t do a good job of setting the tone today.”

MLB: OCT 09 NLDS - Diamondbacks at Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers Pitcher Bobby Miller (70) looks on in the dugout after being pulled from the MLB NLDS Game 1 between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 9, 2023 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Arizona ace Zac Gallen, who started the All-Star Game for the National League back in July, pitched splendidly as he helped send the Diamondbacks back to the desert up 2-0 in the series, needing just one win in the next three to lift them to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2007.

“The job’s not finished,” said Gallen quoting the late Kobe Bryant about his Diamondbacks being one win away from advancing to the NLCS. “It’s a good spot for us to be in, we’re playing with a little confidence. I don’t think it’s any secret that we’ve come in here and struggled. So I think it was good for us mentally to come in here and set the tone, and have a little faith in ourselves. Now we need to go home and finish the job.”

Gallen allowed just two runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 5 and one-third innings.

For the second straight game, the outcome was essentially decided in the first inning. Arizona has scored nine runs in the first inning through the first two games of the series.

“I think we’re playing with nothing to lose. We’re the sixth seed. We weren’t supposed to win in Milwaukee and no one is picking us to beat the Dodgers,” said Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald. “It certainly helps when you score six runs in the first inning and three in the first inning to feel better about yourself, obviously. Nothing to take away from out huge first innings, but it’s a lot easier to play downhill and a it’s a lot harder to play uphill. So scoring first is huge, especially with 60,000 people here and you can calm them down a bit.”

It all started on Monday with a leadoff walk to presumptive NL Rookie of the Year Award winner Corbin Carroll. Two straight singles loaded the bases before Miller could record an out. Three batters later, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled to center to give the Diamondbacks a 3-0 lead. He would later homer off reliever Ryan Brasier.

The Dodgers first home run of the series came off the bat of designated hitter J.D. Martinez. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Martinez sent a 95MPH four-seam fastball from Gallen over the reach of Carroll in right field for L.A.’s first run.

The Dodgers bullpen was brilliant in relief, with Brusdar Graterol playing the role of fireman, summoned to put out the flames in the second inning when L.A. needed him the most.

“I just thought he wasn’t sharp for me. I thought he was getting behind [in counts],” said Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts of Bobby Miller, and why he took him out of the game for Graterol. “I felt at that point in time we couldn’t afford to go down 4-0. And I wanted to give our team a chance to extend the game and felt that we could prevent runs for the duration of the game.”

Graterol pitched a scoreless third and recorded the first two outs of the fourth, and appeared to be one of the only Dodgers’ players to outwardly show passion and excitement.

But the Diamondbacks bullpen was equally up to the task. They bended, but did not break. Loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but they escaped the jam and clung to their two-run lead.

As the game went on, the Dodgers had their chances. Mookie Betts reached base on an error to lead off the seventh, but MLB doubles leader Freddie Freeman grounded into a double play to end the threat.

For the second consecutive postseason it appears as if the Dodgers offense has gone AWOL at the worst possible time. Last season it was the 89-win San Diego Padres who upset the mighty 111-win Dodgers in the NLDS after L.A. took 14 of 19 in the regular season.

This time it appears it’s going to be another NL West rival to upset the 100-win Dodgers. Arizona, who lost 8 of 13 to L.A. in the regular season, is just one-win away from sending the Dodgers home for a long and dark winter.

The road ahead is now monumental. The Dodgers need to win three straight games, the first two on the road, to save their season. They will have 13-year veteran Lance Lynn on the mound in Game 3, but he allowed a league-high 44 home runs this season. After that they will turn to Kershaw again, even though he could only record one out in Game 1.

If they can somehow survive the strike of the snakes in the desert, they will have Miller again on four days rest in Game 5. Did the rookie learn enough on Monday night to overcome the nerves he’ll have in a potential do-or-die elimination game?

The task is daunting, but if any team is resilient enough to win three straight, it’s the Dodgers. They did 15 different times during the 2023 regular season, including to this same Diamondbacks team at the end of August.

Game 3 is scheduled for 6:07PM at Chase Field in Phoenix on Wednesday, October 11th.

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