Five no-hit innings? Dustin was on fire. pic.twitter.com/5yUlAFlykW
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 17, 2022
The Dodgers got into San Francisco, and in Game 1 it was the enigmatic Dustin May vs. the enigmatic Logan Webb. You never know what to expect from either pitcher. May had a couple of uneven starts against the Padres where he just could not command his pitchers. While Webb had a pair of quality starts and wins against the Dodgers and Cubs.
But on this night, it was Dustin May who brought it. And boy did he. Code Red pitched 5.0 innings and faced the minimum. He did not allow a hit, and the one baserunner he did allow on a walk, was erased on a 5-4-3 DP. He had all of his pitches working and had 7 routine ground outs to go with 4 strikeouts. The closest ball to becoming a hit was a Joc Pederson fly ball into LF that Joey Gallo made a spectacular play to get the out.
We have witnessed two of the best OF catches of the year during the last week. The first was chronicled earlier this week with a Mookie Betts catch. 2 games later we get to witness this web gem of Gallo.
In the 2nd inning, Gallo also got the 1st RBI of the game with a fielder’s choice that scored Max Muncy who doubled and moved to 3B on a JT ground out.
But it was the 4th inning that the Dodgers put on a baseball clinic in the 4th. Justin Turner led off with a double which prompted a question for me. Who is slower? Joc Pederson in LF or JT running the bases? JT moved to 3B on a productive Gallo ground out.
Chris Taylor reached out poked an out of the zone slider into CF for a run scoring single. CT3 moved to 2B on a WP. CT3 scored on another 2 strike hit by Cody Bellinger on a 3-2 sinker. Mookie lined out to Mike Yastrzemski for the second out.
Bellinger stole 2B and scored on a Trea Turner single. It was the third 2 strike hit of the inning. Turner stole 2B and Freddie Freeman walked. On the 36th pitch of the inning, Will Smith grounded into force out to end the inning.
Cody Bellinger walked to open the 9th and stole his 2nd base of the night. After two outs, Freddie Freeman singled Belli home, but was thrown out at 2B.
In the 7th, Caleb Ferguson struck out Wilmer Flores and J.D. Davis on 7 pitches (all strikes) before David Villar singled. Brandon Crawford then hit a long fly to CF that Belli made a very good defensive play to make a catch of a ball that would at least hit off the top of the wall if not over, to end the 7th.
Phil Bickford pitched the final 2.0 innings without allowing a baserunner. He threw 25 pitches (18 strikes) and had 2 strikeouts. This was Bickford’s 8th consecutive outing (9.2 IP) without allowing a run. He allowed 4 hits and 1 walk in those 9.2 IP. He has been a different pitcher since coming back from being optioned to OKC.
Alex Vesia has been even better. In his 21 games since July 21, he has pitched 19.1 scoreless innings. He allowed 6 hits and 6 walks in those 19.2 IP.
But the story of the night was Dustin May. The challenge for the big red-head was to be aggressive with the batters. Throw strikes and let the defense make the plays, which is exactly what he did. The plan was to let him go 75-85 pitches, but he hit 69 after 5, and with a 4-0 lead, Doc thought that he would turn it over to the bullpen, which has been stellar. I had no problem with removing May after 5.0. Yes he had a no-hitter through 5 innings, but there are more important games ahead beginning October 11.
JT had 2 doubles, and now has 35 for the season, his career best.
The Dodgers have now won 99 games with 19 to go. And they have a 13-4 record against the Giants.
The Dodgers played a near perfect game. Superb pitching (starting and relief), great defense, and clutch offense. They continue to play outstanding baseball during the regular season. Now we all hope that it continues throughout the playoffs, but we all know what can happen in a short series.
The magic number to clinch a bye for the Wild Card series is 4. The magic number to clinch the home field for the NLCS is 9. They still have a 5.0 game lead over Houston for the best record and home field throughout the World Series.
Julio Urias draws TBD for Game 2.