PHOENIX (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers cobbled together a 100-win regular season, using a strong offense to compensate for a banged-up starting rotation.
Time is running out for that formula to produce even one postseason win.
The Dodgers are down to their last chance in Game 3 of the NL Division Series, facing a 2-0 deficit against the Arizona Diamondbacks when the series resumes on Wednesday night.
Much has been made of L.A.’s bad starting pitching in the first two games — particularly Clayton Kershaw’s debacle in Game 1 — but it’s also true that the Dodgers’ offense hasn’t been doing much, either. Mookie Betts is 0 for 7 over the first two games while Max Muncy is 1 for 7 and Freddie Freeman is 1 for 6.
“They’ve gotten the big hit,” said Muncy, who hit 36 homers during the season. “In the playoffs, that’s what matters. You’ve got to get the hit when it matters. They’ve done that several times and we haven’t.”
A case in point: The Dodgers trailed 4-1 in the sixth inning of Game 2 when they loaded the bases with one out. Kiké Hernández brought home one run with an infield single, but James Outman struck out and Kolten Wong’s groundout ended the threat.
“I didn’t love the pitch selection,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the team’s late at-bats. “There were some balls out of the zone, and there were some borderline balls or pitches that we offered at that we didn’t give ourselves a chance to get into counts.
“I saw some expansion, some pitches that were pitcher’s pitches that we offered at. That’s just what I saw. We had opportunities, but when you get opportunities you’ve got to cash in.”
Arizona has produced multiple offensive highlights. D-backs rookie speedster Corbin Carroll has been the catalyst, both in the Wild Card Series against Milwaukee and again against the Dodgers — hitting .500 with two homers, four RBIs, five walks, a double and a stolen base.
“We believe in being nine strong, but Corbin has an unbelievable knack for rising to the occasion, for understanding what the at-bat is asking for and then going out there and executing it,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I look at him often and I cannot believe he’s 23 years old.”
After losing its last four regular-season games and reaching the playoffs as the final NL wild card, Arizona improved to 4-0 in these playoffs after Monday’s win — all on the road against division winners. It was 5-8 against Los Angeles during the season, losing the final five meetings. Even so, the Dodgers insist they didn’t underestimate the Diamondbacks.
“They’ve been a good team all year long,” Outman said. “They won a series against us this year. We split one earlier. They’re still a good team. They’ve got good position players. They’ve got good pitching. It’s gonna be a dogfight from here on out.”
The Dodgers will send 36-year-old right-hander Lance Lynn to the mound for Game 3. He joined the team in a trade deadline with the Chicago White Sox and went 7-2 with a 4.36 ERA. The D-backs will counter with rookie righty Brandon Pfaadt, who gave up three runs over 2 2/3 innings in last week’s postseason opener.
Pfaadt was 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA during the season. That’s exactly the kind of pitcher the Dodgers dominated.
“Obviously, everything’s more magnified,” Roberts said. “It’s two games, but our backs are against the wall. We’ve got the make some type of adjustments, and we have no more margin.”
AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb