Yasiel Puig is having some kind of week. After making a splash in St. Louis over the weekend with five homers in less than 24 hours, the Dodgers’ right fielder was at it again Wednesday. This time it was off the bench as a pinch-hitter.
With the game knotted at 2-2, Puig grabbed a bat to face right-hander Scott Oberg with runners on second and third. Oberg’s second pitch to Puig landed in the left field pavilion for a three-run homer that pushed the Dodgers over the top as they swept the Rockies with a 5-2 win.
The win gives the Dodgers a 2.5-game lead in the NL West, their biggest of the season, with nine games to go. Just three weeks ago, the Dodgers were in third place and had a tough battle ahead to make the postseason. Los Angeles is 13-6 since that time, beating the very teams ahead of them to take control of their season.
The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the NL West is now in single digits pic.twitter.com/N11c050ZVl— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) September 20, 2018
Puig’s clutch blast means six homers over his last 18 at-bats going back to Friday night against the Cardinals. With lefties on the mound the last two nights for Colorado, Puig had been out of the lineup.
The Dodgers didn’t panic when they got behind 2-0 in the first inning. They chipped away at the lead with Matt Kemp’s 20th homer of the year in the second and a Brian Dozier RBI-double in the fifth tied it.
The homer for Kemp gives the Dodgers seven different players with 20 homers, a franchise record.
Walker Buehler did nothing to dismiss the idea that he is pitching just as good as anybody in the league at the moment. The young right-hander turned in another solid outing, holding the Rockies to two runs — both unearned — over six innings.
Striking out a career-high 12 batters Wednesday, Buehler has now struck out at least nine in four of the last six starts. August 22 was the first time he had reached nine in the big leagues.
The Rockies jumped out to the early 2-0 lead in the first inning, forcing Buehler to make 36 pitches. The bases were loaded before an out was recorded, thanks in part to a throwing error from Justin Turner that was sandwiched by a single and walk.
Buehler looked like he might escape the mess when he struck out Nolan Arenado and induced a ground ball out. But Ian Desmond punched one through the middle to score a pair. The Rockies would have just one hit over the next five innings as Buehler dominated.
In 10 starts since July 31, Buehler has a 1.58 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 62 2⁄3 innings.
ERA since the All-Star break ...— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) September 20, 2018
2.14 Walker Buehler
2.17 Clayton Kershaw
The Dodgers take on the Padres in the final regular season series at Dodger Stadium in 2018. Rich Hill (9-5, 4.02) gets the call Friday against fellow lefty Eric Lauer (5-7, 4.74).
Home Runs: Kemp (20) Puig (22)
WP: Caleb Ferguson (7-2): 2⁄3 IP, 1 strikeout
LP: Scott Oberg (7-1): 1⁄3 IP, 2 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk
SV: Kenley Jansen (36): 1 IP, 1 strikeout