After pushing the bullpen to its limit in a 16-inning triumph that ended in the wee hours Thursday morning, Max Scherzer provided relief for the Dodgers on Thursday night in a 4-0 win to finish of a three-game sweep on the Padres at Petco Park.
Scherzer struck out 10 in 7⅔ scoreless innings, his fifth double-digit strikeout game of the season and second with the Dodgers. He pitched into the eighth inning for the fourth time this year, easing the burden on a bullpen that used nine pitchers on Wednesday and had at least four relievers unavailable to pitch in the series finale.
Scherzer said he didn’t see the end of Wednesday night’s 16-inning win, as he was back at the hotel trying to sleep in advance of his start. He woke up to news of the win.
“Knowing that the game transpired like that, I understood what I needed to do today,” Scherzer said. “My number one goal was to go deep into the ball game. That was going to give us the best chance to win.”
Dodgers pitchers lulled the Padres to sleep during the series, allowing a total of five runs and 10 hits in three games. Two of those runs were unearned, for a 0.79 ERA with 36 strikeouts and eight unintentional walks in 34 innings. Starters allowed only one unearned run in 19⅓ innings.
“When starting pitchers can go out there and do their jobs, and you go deep into ball games, it puts everybody in their roles where they feel comfortable,” Scherzer said. “It allows the offense as well to get some rhythm at the plate. You have a quick inning, and get your hitters back to the bat rack, they tend to hit better.”
Scherzer struck out the side in the first inning, and got to eight strikeouts through just four innings. He retired the side in order in three of the first four frames. A leadoff double and hit by pitch in the fifth got Scherzer in some trouble, but he struck out Ha-Seong Kim and induced a double play to escape the threat unscathed.
“That Caratini double play ball, JT to Turner to Billy, was a game-changing play,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Scherzer retired his final six batters faced on the night, striking out Victor Caratini on his 104th pitch of the night. Scherzer allowed only four batters to reach base.
“He mixes, changeup, curveball slider. He’s fun to catch,” catcher Austin Barnes told Kirsten Watson on SportsNet LA. “It’s the first time I got to catch him, and I can see why he’s so good.”
Since joining the Dodgers, Scherzer has been every bit as good as advertised, allowing five runs in five starts, with 41 strikeouts against only five walks and a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings. He’s won four of the five starts, and the other outing was six strikeouts in 3⅓ scoreless frames shortened by rain in Philadelphia on August 10.
“He’s been huge. He’s been better than advertised,” Roberts said. “I knew there was a work ethic, and a fire. But I didn’t realize the preparation. He knows exactly what he wants to do when he takes that mound.”
Yu Darvish had his way with the Dodgers in his first three starts against them this year, allowing three total runs on just seven hits in 20 innings, with 29 strikeouts.
The Dodgers had just two extra-base hits off Darvish in those first three starts, but on Thursday they had three in the third inning alone. After a Billy McKinney walk while seemingly directly facing the sun to start the frame, Barnes hit his fifth home run of the season.
One out later, Trea Turner and Corey Seager pulled back-to-back doubles for a 3-0 advantage, matching the Dodgers’ total against Darvish in his first three starts.
In the fourth inning, AJ Pollock drove a ball that Gold Glove centerfielder Trent Grisham couldn’t corral, ending up with a triple, and scored a final fourth tally off Darvish on a sacrifice fly. Pollock had two hits on the night after making several key plays in each of the first two games of the series.
Pollock nearly had another home run in the ninth inning, but was robbed by Trent Grisham over the center field wall, the umpteenth excellent catch near an outfield wall in this series.
Home run: Austin Barnes (5)
WP — Max Scherzer (12-4): 7⅔ IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
LP — Yu Darvish (7-8): 6 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
After the briefest of road trips, the Dodgers are back home for a weekend series against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium. No LA starter has yet been announced for Friday (7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), but with David Price starting on Saturday, one would assume Andre Jackson might be called up to pitch a large number of innings in the series opener. Roberts said Friday would be a bullpen game. “We’re going to kind of piece this series together,” Roberts said. “Like we do, we’ll manage it.”
Left-hander Kyle Freeland starts for Colorado.