Thanks to short starts, blown leads and walk-off losses, this Dodgers trip was starting to look like a horror film.
That is until Bobby Miller and an opportunistic offense responded with a nearly perfect script Saturday afternoon.
In a 9-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, the Dodgers shook off some of the frustrations from earlier this week — when they began their two-city swing with three losses, all in walk-off fashion, out of four games — by offering the kind of complete performance that has too often eluded them of late.
Miller was the biggest star, continuing a dazzling start to his major league career with six shutout innings in just his fourth start.
The offense gave him some early breathing room, before pulling away with a flurry of runs late.
And the struggling bullpen got a much-needed reprieve, requiring a three-inning save from Andre Jackson to even the weekend series at Citizens Bank Park and set up the chance to salvage a 3-3 trip in Sunday afternoon’s finale.
“The way it started, if we can salvage this trip and go .500 and get to the off day,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “it’ll be a happy flight.”
More than anyone, Miller made that opportunity possible.
Already a budding star thanks to his opening trio of impressive outings, the right-hander got better as Saturday’s game went along.
After retiring the side in order in the first inning, he had to escape a bases-loaded jam in the second. With his pitch count already near 50 entering the third, he issued a leadoff walk that hinted at a potential early hook.
However, the 24-year-old former first-round draft pick rallied from there.
He dialed in command of his slider, using it for a strikeout of Nick Castellanos and double-play grounder from Bryce Harper to end the third. He turned to it again in the fourth, fanning former Dodger Trea Turner before stranding a two-out single on a groundout from Brandon Marsh.
After a 10-pitch fifth inning, Miller worked around one last baserunner in the sixth, issuing a walk to Harper before retiring Turner and J.T. Realmuto — the latter via a strikeout with a 98 mph sinker — to conclude his second consecutive scoreless six-inning appearance.
“It’s been good to see how he has just managed emotions, made pitches when he needed to,” Roberts said. “For him to go out there and be efficient, get through six innings, was a big lift.”
Miller has three starts of at least six innings while giving up no more than one run, trailing only Clayton Kershaw for most on the team.
Miller has thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings, passing Tony Gonsolin for most by a Dodgers pitcher this year.
Since 1901, only eight other pitchers in MLB history have matched his feat of giving up two runs or fewer through their first four career starts (minimum 20 innings). The lone Dodgers on that list: Kenta Maeda in 2016 and Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.
“There’s a couple barrels out there that got caught,” Miller said when asked if he has surprised himself with his performance thus far. “But other than that, not really, if I’m executing all my stuff.”
It’s putting Miller on track to remain in the Dodgers’ banged-up rotation for the long haul.
“When you play for this club, we’re not about development. We gotta win,” Roberts said. “So it doesn’t matter the age, the service time. If you’re going out there and performing, then you earn those rights, those opportunities. Right now, I know he’s focused on his next one, which he should. But he’s done nothing but instill confidence in us.”
Miller’s dominance proved to be superfluous on a day the Dodgers lineup ignited for nine runs on nine hits.
After the Dodgers made eight straight outs to start the game, James Outman sparked a two-out rally in the third with a double high off the left-field wall, his first extra-base hit in 16 games.
Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman followed with back-to-back RBI singles to open the scoring. An inning later, David Peralta made it 3-0 with a 415-foot home run to right-center field.
In the top of the seventh, with the game still seemingly within reach for the Phillies given the Dodgers’ recent bullpen struggles, the club’s lineup quickly erased any lingering suspense.
After knocking Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola out of the game, the Dodgers surged for a six-run outburst — capped by a three-run J.D. Martinez homer, his 16th of the season — to effectively finish their most lopsided win in a month.
“It was great,” Roberts said. “Given that last series, [and the walk-off loss] yesterday, and where we were at, this was a big reset.”
Source: LA Times