The Dodgers did nothing more than kick off the postseason elimination Tuesday night.
With a 7–2 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, they made a comeback against their state rivals in a big gamble, significant adjustments and a sound game plan victory on the mound. on the plate.
Now, they’ll head back to San Francisco for the winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday night.
Until then, here are five takeaways from the win that extended the Dodgers’ season by at least one more game.
Big chunk of territory, big success
Aggression at the plate can take many forms.
Swinging too early in the count. Swing on pitches that are too high outside the area. Or swinging on personal offerings too soon.
The latter was something that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts insisted on throughout the series, stating that he wanted to see his club use “larger sections of the field” more often and swing to get the ball to middle or second. Wait for a split second to do. Way.
“It allows us to watch baseball a little longer,” Roberts said. “Make better swing decisions.”
The Dodgers’ seven-run, 12-hit blast in Game 4 supported that view.
Of the 30 balls the Dodgers played, 17 hit either center field or the other side. Eight of them led to hits, including home runs by Mookie Bates and Will Smith. And the tone was set early, when Corey Seeger and Tree Turner drove a single and double in back-to-back first innings, respectively, into opposite field to open the scoring.
“We talked after Game 1,” Roberts said. “I think when we’re at our best we use up a large part of the field.”
Indeed, in the opening game of the series against Logan Webb — which will also start Thursday’s decider Game 5 — the Dodgers struggled to use all of the field. Leaving his five groundouts back to the pitcher, he only went to center or opposite field seven times and hit just once.
The last three games, however, they have not only been more disciplined in their swing decisions, but more deliberate in where they are trying to drive the ball.
“I think it could have skewed a lot more tonight, the score,” Roberts said of Game 4, in which his team was in a position to score one for 11. “I thought we took some great batsmen and didn’t reward them, but if we keep getting those batsmen, I like our chances.”
Buehler makes adjustments
As he saw the Walker Buehler pitch for the first time in his career on three days’ rest – a crucial 4⅓ innings, a one-run start that gives Buehler a 1.25 ERA in four career postseason elimination games – Roberts thought the right-handed batsman Ways of not being at full force got some advantage.
“Sometimes when you’re a little overtired and not too agitated or too strong, you try not to do too much,” Roberts said. “And throughout the night he was engaged in his labor,”
Much of Buehler’s success also lay in his game plan.
In his first start of the series in Game 1, Buehler threw his fastball nearly half the time, a trend that came back to bite him when Buster Posey and Kris Bryant hit homers off the pitch in a 6⅓-innings, three-run defeat. done. .
In Game 4, Buehler opted for a more balanced arsenal.
This time, the four-seamer took up barely a third of his pitches. Instead, he increased his use of the cutter, a pitch he has consistently improved on in recent seasons; The curveball, which includes many beginners, counts its second through the sequence; And, perhaps most notably, the changes, adding an off-speed element that Giants manager Gabe Kapler admitted his team was not entirely expecting.
“He mixed a little more into his change than we suspected,” Kapler said. “That was an effective pitch for him.”
Two Sides of Giants Pitching
As they’ve done all series, the Dodgers feasted against the underbelly of the Giants pitching staff, knocking their No. 4 starter, Anthony Descalafani, and one around mid-relief arm after another.
In the series, legendary pitchers named Webb, Camilo Doval, or Tyler Rogers have combined 6.23 ERAs, 1.615 WHIPs, and strikeouts (21) for almost half as many runs (10).
The problem for the Dodgers: Against the aforementioned trio—all of whom will likely play a key role in Game 5—with Webb starting up and Doval, the close, and Rogers, with submarine right arm, almost certain to come out of the bullpen. The numbers are worrying.
In the 13⅓ innings against those three, the Dodgers have yet to score. He has just eight hits, has walked once and hit eight times.
Adjusting to the ground ball-inducing mix of sinkers, sliders and web of changeups will be especially important for the Dodgers, who never got their offense in Game 1 against the 24-year-old right-hander.
“I think we’re going to go back, talk as a group, come up with a better game plan than last time, make some adjustments and go from there,” Smith said.
Will Smith’s hot bat, cool gloves
Smith’s two most memorable moments were during last year’s Dodgers World Series, producing a historic five-hit performance in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres and a crucial home run in Game 5 of the NLCS against Atlanta. was killed. The Braves help spark the team’s return to that series.
But overall, his 2020 post season was somewhat underwhelming. He batted only .203, spent half the time serving as a designated hitter, and struggled to make frequent small contributions to fulfill his headlines.
This year his role is different. And so far, there have been results.
Smith has solidified himself as a full-time catcher for the Dodgers, which is matched by his superior pitch framing from the regular season (according to Baseball Savant, after ranking the worst in baseball last season, he has improved in that skill this year). was above league-average.) With a strong execution of the game plan, Bühler’s Game 4 begins to serve as the latest example.
More importantly, he has been the Dodgers’ most dangerous batsman to date, crushing his second home run of the series in a two-hit performance on Thursday after hitting the cleanup spot.
In the latter five games of the season, Smith is batting .333 with three RBIs and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.206.
Greatroll gun lights up
Brother Greaterol breathed a sigh of relief in the sixth innings.
His first pitch slipped out of his hands at 102.5 mph, the toughest and toughest by any Dodger pitcher since 2009.
While Greaterol was above 100 mph seven times in the innings – including three more pitches assuming 102 mph – the execution was as impressive as the velocity.
He overtakes Posey to take the lead off ground. Then, after Bryant attacked a first-pitch fastball for a single, Greatroll responded by grounding Wilmer Flores and Ivan Longoria.
While the 23-year-old right-handed batsman is still not hitting many strikes, he has been dependable in October. Tuesday was his fourth consecutive score in these playoffs, and the first time he has dropped a hit.
“He’s actually shown a lot of chivalry,” Roberts said. “You look at the outings we’ve had him out there, he’s made good quality pitches and this moment isn’t huge for him.”