LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers used a patient approach to wear out Robbie Ray and a taxed Diamondbacks pitching staff, taking full control of the National League Division Series with an 8-5 win in Game 2 on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
The 2-0 NLDS lead is the Dodgers’ first 2-0 lead in a postseason series since the 2009 NLDS against St. Louis.
Left-hander Robbie Ray owned the Dodgers, striking out 53 with a 2.27 ERA in his five regular season starts against them, but after his relief work in Wednesday’s wild card game the Dodgers wanted to make Ray work.
“We're going to be aggressive, but ideally, yeah, you want to be in your zone. When he's a slider down and out of the zone, or a fastball above the zone, you want to be selective,” manager Dave Roberts explained. “But if he does make a mistake, you better jump on it. Because a guy like that doesn't make too many.”
The mistakes were prevalent early for Ray, even though he didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning. He walked four and threw three wild pitches, two of which led to runs.
Then, the floodgates opened, with four singles in the fourth inning to take the lead, followed by three singles and a double in the fifth to plate four more runs. Ray’s night ended with one out in the fifth inning, after 88 pitches.
“That was kind of harped on earlier today what our plan wanted to be on the field. Try to keep him in the zone,” said Logan Forsythe, who had three hits and scored three times in Game 2. “When we keep him in the zone, we do well. The average is up, the slug is up. Everything’s up. We just get more barrels to the ball, plain and simple.”
After seeing 181 pitches in Game 1, the Dodgers saw 174 pitches from Diamondbacks pitchers in Game 2.
Forsythe, Austin Barnes and Yasiel Puig — the sixth through eighth hitters in Game 2 -- combined for eight hits, a walk, five runs scored and five driven in.
The Dodgers were 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position for a second straight night.
That overcame a pair of early runs scored by the Diamondbacks, on a two-run no-doubt home run by Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning. Both starting pitchers labored on Saturday, with Rich Hill throwing 78 pitches in his four innings, though he didn’t allow anything else after the home run to Goldschmidt.
Hill also provided some comedy during the Dodgers’ seventh-inning rally:
Another late home run scare
Kenta Maeda was pulled after just one inning of relief with a five-run lead in the sixth, retiring all three batters he faced, with Roberts instead opting for matchups. That lead became more precarious when Tony Watson allowed a pair of singles to start the seventh.
Brandon Morrow, who recorded four outs in a scoreless Game 1 appearance, was summoned from the bullpen. Brandon Drury greeted him rudely with a rocket into the left field pavilion, cutting the Dodgers’ advantage to just 7-5.
It was the first home run allowed by Morrow all season.
Most batters faced w/ no HR allowed this season:— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) October 8, 2017
1. Brandon Morrow: 170
2. Noah Syndergaard: 124
Roberts said with three left-handers in the next four hitters due up, he preferred the southpaw Watson. Maeda, who held right-handed batters to just .214/.258/.389 this season — lefties hit .263/.322/.458 against him — has a specific role in the bullpen.
“On this roster, he’s a righty killer. He’s really dominated right-handed hitters,” Roberts said. “He did what he needed to do.”
Maeda struck out A.J. Pollock and J.D. Martinez, and mixed in a Goldschmidt ground out in between.
“His slider was really good. His fastball had some pretty good life to it. He came ready to throw right away,” said Barnes. “He went through their lineup, the meat of it, and he made some big pitches.”
With a three-run lead to open the seventh, Josh Fields allowed a one-out double, which meant Kenley Jansen for a five-out save, something made even more possible with Sunday’s pending off day.
Five of Jansen’s eight postseason outings last season were longer than an inning, with four of the outings lasting at least five outs. During this regular season, Jansen had 13 save attempts lasting longer than one inning, converting 12 of them with a 1.53 ERA, 24 strikeouts and one walk in 17⅔ innings in those games, while also stranding 13 of 14 inherited runners.
Men of steal
The Dodgers stole four bases off catcher Chris Iannetta and relief pitchers Jimmie Sherfy and Jorge De La Rosa on Saturday. The four steals matched a club record for a postseason game, matching Game 5 of the 1965 World Series and Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS.
Barnes’ steal of third base in the fifth inning put him in select company. He joined John Roseboro, Steve Yeager and Russell Martin as the only Dodgers catchers to steal a base in a postseason game.
Game 2 particulars
Home runs: Paul Goldschmidt (1), Brandon Drury (1)
WP - Kenta Maeda (1-0): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
LP - Robbie Ray (0-1): 4⅓ IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (1): 1⅔ IP, 2 strikeouts