The Dodgers built an early 2-0 lead for a second straight night in Philadelphia, but when tiptoeing through the minefield of minefield it was Pedro Baez wearing the clown shoes on Tuesday. Baez allowed four runs in a fateful seventh inning, giving the Phillies their second straight comeback win, this time a 6-2 triumph for the home team.
In the sixth inning, when the Phillies rallied for their first run of the game to pull within one, Orel Hershiser — no stranger to postseason experience himself — on the SportsNet LA television broadcast explained what he was looking for when watching these late regular season games for the Dodgers.
“I’m very confident in the clinch of a fifth division title,” Hershiser said. “But the anxiousness of these moments comes from wanting to see the different pieces of the roster perform at a level that you can project them going deep into the playoffs.
“Different scenario if you were battling for the division and really needed a W tonight to catch somebody or stay out in front. But you really watch to see precisely who’s on their game.”
Baez was not on his game on Tuesday, nor has he been for most of September. He started the seventh by allowing a leadoff triple to J.P. Crawford, then hit Jorge Alfaro with a pitch. He nearly got out of the jam, getting Maikel Franco to pop out then with the bases loaded saw Curtis Granderson make a tremendous sliding catch in right field for the second out.
The Dodgers got an amazing gift when the rookie Crawford didn’t tag up at third base — he could have jogged home after the catch — but Baez couldn’t capitalize.
He walked Odubel Herrera to force in the tying run, then rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins worked a 10-pitch at-bat before clearing the bases with a double.
Baez threw a season-high 36 pitches on Tuesday, and allowed four runs. He recorded two outs. In September, Baez has allowed runs in five of his seven appearances, posting a 20.77 ERA with more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five).
Since the All-Star break, opposing batters are hitting .250/.359/.500 against Baez. In September, they are hitting .412/.563/.917 in 32 plate appearances.
With each successive performance, Baez is making it harder and harder for the Dodgers to include him on a postseason roster, a fact manager Dave Roberts acknowledged publicly for the first time after Tuesday’s game:
Dave Roberts: “You’ve got to take your best 25 when you’re talking about potentially getting a postseason roster together.”— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) September 20, 2017
Dave Roberts to question on Pedro Baez's post-season roster chances: "Obviously where Pedro was at a few weeks ago vs. where he’s at now— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 20, 2017
For the second straight night the Dodgers got two early runs and not much else. Both runs on Tuesday were driven in by a pair who badly needed results of late.
Yasmani Grandal got things started with a solo home run in the third, giving the Dodgers a franchise-record six players with 20 or more home runs. He also made a tremendous sliding catch in foul territory of a Crawford pop up, near the Dodgers third base dugout.
Granderson delivered an RBI double one inning later, his first double as a Dodger. Half of his first 10 hits with he new team were home runs, and the other half singles.
Before Tuesday, Grandal was 2-for-38 (.053) in September, and Granderson was 5-for-42 (.119).
Yu Darvish was effective for his second straight start, striking out seven on the night. He caught Freddy Galvis looking in the sixth inning for his 200th strikeout of the season, the third 200-strikeout season of his career and first since leading the American League with 277 strikeouts in 2013.
Darvish allowed only an unearned run, and it didn’t come until the sixth inning. With one out in the sixth inning, clinging to a 2-0 lead, Hoskins got the better hand in the eight-pitch at-bat, singling to left field to bring the Phillies within a run. He was the last batter Darvish faced, done after 5⅓ innings.
Aaron Nola was solid for the Phillies, striking out eight in seven innings, the 14th time in his last 17 starts allowing two or fewer earned runs.
Second chance saloon
Aaron Altherr had a pair of chances to turn the game around for the Phillies for a second consecutive night. But his fourth-inning smash was knocked down by the wind, instead falling into the glove of Chris Taylor in right center field. Instead of a game-tying, two-run home run, the inning was over and Darvish’s ledger remained unblemished at that point.
Altherr got another bases loaded chance in the sixth inning, this time with the score 2-1, but this time Tony Watson induced a double play ground ball to shortstop to end the frame, preserving the Dodgers’ one-run lead.
Ultimately though, Altherr got his, padding the Phillies lead with a solo home run in the eighth.
Yu’s on first
In the third inning, Nola walked Darvish on four pitches. It was the first career walk for Darvish, who is 4-for-29 (.138) lifetime as a batter, with 19 strikeouts. Dodgers pitchers have 13 walks while batting this season, third-most in the majors.
Alex Wood starts on Wednesday night, another 4:05 p.m. PT start, facing Jake Thompson for the Phillies.
Home runs: Yasmani Grandal (20); Aaron Altherr (18)
WP - Aaron Nola (12-10): 7 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
LP - Pedro Baez (3-6): ⅔ IP, 2 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks