The Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, just like they were expected to. The 8-4 win at Dodger Stadium pushed Los Angeles to 13-2 against hapless Arizona this season, outscoring them 110-41. The Diamondbacks are a team who have now lost 21 of its last 24 games on the road against the Dodgers dating back to 2018, so this result was the norm.
After a patchwork pitching staff carried the team for the last two and a half months, the Dodgers now have as close to a normal starting rotation as they’ve had since the end of June. The kind you can count on, and not wonder which seven or eight pitchers are going to appear in that day’s game.
Okay, maybe not fully this week, with Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin still stretching out, but things are looking up.
Shoulder inflammation cost Gonsolin 95 games on his two injured list stints, and affected his performance while active, with a walk rate (16.3 percent) over four times higher than last year (4 percent).
“Just filling up the strike zone, and using his entire mix,” manager Dave Roberts said was his goal for Gonsolin before the game. “When he’s right and commanding the baseball, he’s tough to put innings against.”
Gonsolin did just that against the Diamondbacks, striking out six while allowing only two singles and two walks. Slated for roughly four innings and 60 pitches, Gonsolin completed five scoreless frames, throwing 45 of his 67 pitches for strikes (67.1 percent), after throwing just 58.1 percent of his pitches for strikes in his first 11 games this year.
Arizona sent a lineup full of left-handed or switch-hitting position players, and Gonsolin lulled them to sleep. He didn’t face a right-handed non-pitcher until pinch-hitter Andrew Young in the fifth inning, and Gonsolin struck him out to end his night.
Max Muncy doesn’t need a sign from the dugout for permission to swing. He’s earned trust thanks to 115 home runs with the Dodgers, fourth-most in MLB since the start of 2018. Falling behind 2-0 in the count was no place for Luke Weaver to live in the third inning, and Muncy — who doubled and scored in the first inning — made him pay, crushing a fastball into the right field pavilion to give the Dodgers some breathing room.
Muncy’s 33 home runs this season rank third in the National League, two shy of his career high. Muncy hit 35 homers in both 2018 and 2019, and if he does it again he’d be just the third Dodger with at least three 35-homer seasons, joining Duke Snider (five years, all 40-plus) and Mike Piazza.
While Max Scherzer was the rightful headliner from the Dodgers’ trade with the Nationals, LA also got an MVP contender on the right side of 30 in Trea Turner, who isn’t a free agent until after the 2022 season. He’s been pretty impactful in 2021 as well, including a double and home run on Tuesday.
With the win, plus losses by the Reds and Padres, the Dodgers have clinched a postseason berth for a ninth consecutive season. But while the Dodgers, on pace for 103 wins, continue to play the role of Ezra, the Giants and their nine straight wins remain two and a half games up in the National League West.
AJ Pollock, who has been sidelined since September 5 with a right hamstring strain, will play in simulated game situations at Dodger Stadium this weekend, then on Monday head to the team’s facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona to take part in more game situations.
“From that point on, we’ll just see where it goes next,” Roberts said.
Chris Taylor continued to receive treatment on his sore neck on Tuesday, but missed his fourth straight game.
Home runs: Max Muncy (33), Trea Turner (22), Will Smith (24); Ketel Marte (12)
WP — Tony Gonsolin (3-1): 5 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP — Luke Weaver (3-5): 4 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Julio Urías gets the ball for the Dodgers in Wednesday’s series finale (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, ESPN), trying for his 18th win. Merrill Kelly starts for Arizona.