The Dodgers won for the 100th time in 2022 on Saturday night. This was the fastest for a team to get to 100 since 2001. It did not go too well for that team in the playoffs. It was the last time Seattle made the playoffs until possibly 2022.
It was a cold wet day on Sunday in SF for another Sunday night ESPN game. Andrew Heaney vs Alex Cobb. The last time Heaney faced the Giants, he gave up 6 runs including 4 HRs. Cobb shut out Atlanta for 7.0 IP in his last game. His last game against the Dodgers was 5.1 IP where he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits. Cobb had 12.0 shutout IP in the 2 previous starts before his last game against LAD. So sandwiched around his September 5 start against LAD, Cobb had 19.0 shoutout IP.
The Dodgers struck first with a walk to Freddie Freeman to lead off the fourth, and he came all the way around on a JT double. This was JT’s 36th double of the season increasing his career best season for doubles. Then the rains hit. The grounds crew did a good job of keeping the infield as dry as possible and kept the rain delay to 20 minutes.
Heaney was more than terrific over the first 3 innings, retiring the first 9 batters he faced, on 38 pitches. But in the 4th, a single, ground rule double, and walk loaded the bases with one out and Evan Longoria coming to the plate with Joey Bart behind him. Heaney has been racking up HRs this season, but also strikeouts. He proceeded to strikeout both Longoria and Bart to escape the 4th. He breezed through three, but after the rain delay he was not as much in command and he was pulled after 65 pitches: 27 in the 4th.
Andrew Heaney was 93-95 on his 4-seam, 82-84 on his slider, and threw 2 changeups at 82 and 84. Heaney went 4 scoreless and struck out 8 and walked just 1. Heaney has an ERA of just 2.66 on the year, a WHIP of just 1.05, and an average against of just .207. #dodgers pic.twitter.com/7BVVnXNPxH
— Dodger Poke Report (@dodger_poke) September 19, 2022
In 4.0 IP, Andrew Heaney had 8 strikeouts and 16 swings and misses. This is exactly what Dodger management is looking for in the playoffs. In his last two starts, Heaney has shown that he should be considered as a starter, but could also be effective in the multi-inning reliever role that Julio Urias proved to be so pivotal in 2020. With Urias, Kershaw, and Anderson as probable starters, the Dodgers need a RHSP to include in that group. That figures to be Dustin May.
I think Lewis Brinson would love to play the Dodgers for 162 games. He has a knack for hitting LAD pitchers well. He doubled off Caleb Ferguson to open the 5th. Ferguson worked around the double and should have got out of the inning except for a Trea Turner throwing error on a ball hit by Thairo Estrada that scored Brinson. Caleb proceeded to pick Estrada off to end the inning.
Phil Bickford continued to shine with a perfect 6th with 2 Ks. Evan Phillips continued with a scoreless 7th. In the 8th, Alex Vesia came in and proceeded to walk Heliot Ramos, a .105 hitter. The kid has great defensive skills, but he cannot hit ML pitching, and Vesia walks him. Vesia then walked Estrada to put a runner in scoring position with no outs.
I think Joc Pederson was momentarily drawn back into the LAD dugout as he proceeded to strikeout on a failed bunt attempt (???). Right handed Wilmer Flores then hit a ball to the wall in CF that Cody Bellinger made another excellent read and catch of a ball hit over his head. J.D. Davis, another RH hitter, crushed a ground rule double that tied the score, but Estrada would have scored easily had the ball not bounced over the wall. After an IBB, Vesia struck out LaMonte Wade, Jr. to keep the score tied.
The Dodgers got their second sac bunt of 2022 in the 10th from Austin Barnes, moving ghost runner Cody Bellinger to 3B with one out. Mookie Betts roped a double down the left field line to score Belli. Trea Turner followed with a line drive to RF that Ramos ran down, allowing Mookie to move up to 3rd. Freddie was IBB, and SF RHRP John Brebbia then unintentionally walked JT to load the bases. That brought in LHRP Thomas Szapucki to face Max Muncy. He walked Max and forced in the 4th run.
In the 9th, Craig Kimbrel got three outs on 11 pitches. The bullpen was now getting depleted. Doc did not want to use Tommy Kahnle or Chris Martin who pitched the night before, leaving Andre Jackson and Justin Bruihl to try and close it out in the 10th.
I actually understand bringing in Andre Jackson, or at least was very accepting of it. Jackson is not going to make the playoff roster, but it sure was important for Doc/AF/BG to see Andre as well as the other 29 teams in a high leverage situation. Unfortunately Andre walked Thairo Estrada on 4 pitches.
That brought up Joc Pederson. With 2 strikes, Joc hit a ball that would have been out of most parks, including Oracle Park on most nights. But the wind coming in from RF cut it down for the 1st out in the 10th. Mookie ran 109 feet (per ESPN) to make a terrific catch. The ghost runner, Ramos, moved up to 3rd. Next batter, Wilmer Flores, is just clutch with an oppo single on an 0-2 pitch to drive in Heliot Ramos. Why Jackson grooved a center/center 4 seamer on an 0-2 pitch I cannot figure out. He missed in getting that pitch up and out of the zone. Jackson then learned and struck out J.D. Davis on an elevated 96.3 MPH fastball, but follows that up with a walk to Evan Longoria to load the bases.
Exit Jackson, enter LHRP Justin Bruihl to face LaMonte Wade Jr. This was the second time in three innings that Wade came up with the bases loaded with 2 outs. Last year, Wade was almost automatic in these spots. Not this year. After he hits a ball almost into McCovey Cove, but just foul, on a 3-2 pitch, he hits a ground ball grabbed by Freddie who fed Bruihl for the out at 1st to give the Dodgers win #101.
The Baseball Gods were on the Dodgers side in this one. Two ground rule doubles, one by Wilmer Flores in the 4th and a second by J.D. Davis in the 8th precluded a runner on 1st from scoring. The Dodgers do not get to the 10th if either one of those hits hit the wall instead of bouncing over it. Last year, the Giants had all of the luck. This year not so much.
There were 6 series against the Giants this year. The Dodgers swept 4 of those series, and the Giants swept 1. Last year, SF had a 10-9 regular season advantage over LAD. This year, the Dodgers were 15-4 against SF.
I am a little surprised that Miguel Vargas has not had more of an opportunity to make an impression. But the playoff schedule gives the team more than sufficient downtime before their first NLDS. Too much downtime?
While the position players roster is undoubtedly set, the pitching is not. I am looking forward to seeing which of the IL pitchers get activated this week. Michael Grove will get another chance to audition for 2023 on Tuesday in one of the DH games. But he will undoubtedly be sent back to OKC when the first pitcher from the IL is activated.