Mookie Betts lifts Dodgers with walk-off win over Diamondbacks

Mookie Betts lifts Dodgers with walk-off win over Diamondbacks

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Mookie Betts congratulates Dave Roberts after he hit a solo home run to win a 3-2 baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Los Angeles, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. Freddie Freeman scored.  (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dodgers manager Mookie Betts, left, congratulates Dave Roberts after he hit a walk-off single to win 3-2 against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. Scored by Freddie Freeman. (Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

Four hours before the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 on Thursday on a walk-off hit by Mookie Betts, everyone’s eyes were blue riveted on the Dodger Stadium pitcher’s mound.

Manager Dave Roberts and bench coach Bob Geren stood near the third base line, arms folded. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman looked on as he chatted with Betts. A good half dozen of the Dodgers pitchers leaned against the dugout railing, watching each pitch.

No one needed to state the obvious: What they saw could have a serious impact on their postseason success.

Tony Gonsolin, who is on the injured list since August 29 with a forearm strain, was pitching to teammates Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, Hanser Alberto and Miguel Vargas. The All-Star right-hander held nothing back, throwing his four-seam fastball, slider, curve and split-finger fastball.

Gonsolin, whose injury derailed a breakout season that included a 16-1 record and 2.10 ERA, took a seat in the dugout while reliever David Price – also on the injured list – faced the same four batters. Back came Gonsolin for another frame, and when he was done with the two-inning simulation called “up-down,” there were protective smiles all around.

“I thought the stuff was good, the arm speed was good, and he used his whole pitching mix, which was great,” Roberts said. “Assuming he goes all right, there will be a bullpen in a couple of days, then another live inning two or three, hopefully, up and down. Very encouraging for Tony.”

Just as it sparked the ninth-inning rally to overcome a 2-1 deficit it enabled the Dodgers to split the four-game series. Cody Bellinger led off with a double – just missing a home run – and Will Smith and Max Muncy followed an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman with an infield single to tie the score. With two outs, Betts hit a wild pitch to Joey Gallo, beat a full pitch and drove a single to left field to score Freeman.

Betts had the night off, but took some hacks in the batting cage in the ninth inning in case he was needed.

“I was hoping not to hit,” Betts said, “but you go into a situation that calls for it and you turn your brain and you’re ready to go.”

Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel, as wobbly as ever, touched for Christian Walker’s home run in the top of the ninth, snapping a tie in a game highlighted by the dominant pitching of Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen, who struck out 13 and allowed only two baserunners. in eight nails.

The pitcher who could be the Dodgers’ next closer — Blake Treinen — admitted Thursday that he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to pitch in the playoffs.

Treinen was conspicuously absent during Gonsolin’s pre-match introduction. Unable to relieve shoulder pain, the highly-touted reliever stayed in the clubhouse talking to a member of the coaching staff as Gonsolin and Price played.

Roberts had expressed doubts a day earlier that Treinen would be healthy for the playoffs. The member was not contradicting his manager.

“The body is so fierce that it’s a little difficult to bounce back the way I wanted to,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s a definitive answer yet one way or the other. The only thing I can do is try to get to a point where I can be used, where I can help the team.”

Brusdar Graterol made a tough return from the injured list Thursday, welcoming a bullpen anchored by righty Evan Phillips, left-hander Alex Vesia and Kimbrel. Treinen’s coverage is minimal at best.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías throws during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías throws during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. (Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

“I would use the word frustrating,” Roberts said of Treinen’s status. “He’s not bouncing back. We’re going to give him a few days without throwing, then he’ll pick up a baseball on Saturday and see how he responds.”

Gonsolin is much closer to a return and that would be a huge boost. After being inactive for almost a month, his stamina may not be enough to last more than three or four innings. But he has given up just 76 hits in 128 1/3 innings.

Without him, there could be four lefties in the starting rotation of the season: Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson. Everyone has great seasons, but Heaney and Anderson have no postseason experience. Right-hander Dustin May is in the mix, but he has been inconsistent in six starts since returning from Tommy John surgery.

“I don’t expect it to be the same buildup as before he went to the IL, but I think he is giving us the opportunity to get in some valuable innings still in play,” said Roberts from Gonsolin. “Him starting a game? Then we have to see how long we can run it out there for.”

Lux had the right luck against Gonsolin and Price in the mock game, holding up two fingers and telling coaches Mark Prior and Dino Ebel that he had two hits. The coaches rejected Lux’s argument, saying that if the defense had changed he would have had no hits. Lux barked back but it was all in fun.

Moments later Lux fielded ground balls off a coach’s fungo bat until he was huffing, puffing and sweating profusely. Then the game started and he made a poor decision, spinning and throwing wildly to second base after taking a few steps on the ground in left in the third inning. The error resulted in the Diamondbacks’ first run.

The Dodgers responded with two outs in the fourth against Gallen, who showed a devastating knuckle curve as he retired the first 11 batters – six on strikes. Smith tripled and Muncy doubled to tie the score 1-1.

Those were the first Dodgers relievers through eight innings – Gallen retired the next 13 in a row, including seven more by strikeout. The righty is having a breakout season with a 12-3 record and 2.46 ERA. However, Gallen threw 98 pitches – 77 for strikes – and was elevated by manager Torey Lovullo.

Roberts pulled Urías in favor of Phillips after the first two Diamondbacks hitters in the sixth inning hit the ball — Stone Garrett doubling to left-center and Emmanuel Rivera going to Muncy at third. Urías threw 89 pitches — 62 strikes — while giving up three hits and striking out five. Phillips struck out two batters to end the threat, Vesia struck out the side in the seventh and Graterol singled, two, through the eighth.

To the delight of the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks replaced Gallen with Reyes Moronta, who the Dodgers designated for assignment several weeks ago. Neither Moronta nor left-hander Joe Mantiply were up to the task, and Betts – his brain clearly on – delivered.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.