One day after the Dodgers thought they already clinched a postseason berth, only to find out Monday morning that they didn’t, Los Angeles made it officially official on Monday night in Phoenix. Their patience was on display in the game as well, waiting to feat on the Diamondbacks bullpen in a 6-0 win in the series opener at Chase Field.
No runs were scored until the seventh inning, when the Dodgers got their first look at the Arizona bullpen. Max Muncy greeted Kyle Nelson with a double off the centerfield wall, Justin Turner reached on a fielder’s choice when Nelson tried to get Muncy heading back to second base, then Chris Taylor walked to load the bases with nobody out.
Nelson’s night was done, but Trayce Thompson greeted Kevin Ginkel with a flyout to center plenty deep enough to score the game’s first run.
Cody Bellinger widened the advantage with a two-run double to center, one day after posing as a Chippendale dancer during Dodgers dress up day on the flight to Phoenix. No matter the season Bellinger is having, he’ll always be the most memeable Dodger, and Justin Turner’s interview on MLB Network earlier Monday added to the lore.
It seems Bellinger was on board with dressing up, only he thought it would be Chip ‘n’ Dale, the animated crime-fighting mice duo. Scroll to 6:25 of this video to see Turner’s explanation.
Bellinger singled in the ninth inning as well, his second straight two-hit game after an 0-for-28 slump.
Mookie Betts cashed in singles by Bellinger and Turner in the ninth with a three-run home run, making for six runs in three innings against the D-backs bullpen. Betts’ home run not only doubled the Dodgers lead, but his career-best 34th long ball of the year set a team record for most homers out of the leadoff spot in a season, one more than Joc Pederson in 2019.
The game was scoreless into the seventh thanks to two excellent starts from a pair of Oregon Ducks. Tyler Anderson worked around five hits and two walks to pitch seven scoreless innings. The left-hander only struck out two but induced three double plays among his nine groundouts.
Anderson, a first-round pick of the Rockies out of Oregon in 2011, has lasted seven innings in each of his last three starts and five of his last seven. After making his first All-Star team this season, Anderson has a 1.92 ERA in 11 starts. The Dodgers have won nine of them.
The Dodgers avoided D-backs ace Zac Gallen in this series, but they still got stymied by an Arizona pitcher with a scoreless streak. Ryne Nelson, a second-round pick in 2019 out of Oregon, was making just his second major league start, but was very familiar with the strike zone, striking out six in six scoreless innings on Monday.
Nelson allowed only two hits and two walks, following a sparking debut with seven scoreless innings in San Diego one week earlier. Nelson threw 44 of his 63 pitches (70 percent) for strikes through five innings, but the Dodgers made him work a little bit with only eight strikes in 18 pitches in the sixth. Trea Turner’s two-out triple wasn’t cashed in, but that was at least enough to end Nelson’s second big league start after only 81 pitches and six scoreless frames.
The Dodgers can clinch the National League West on Tuesday with either a win in Arizona or a Padres loss in Seattle.
Home run: Mookie Betts (34)
WP — Tyler Anderson (15-3): 7 IP, 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
LP — Kyle Nelson (2-1): 0 IP, 1 hit, 3 runs, 1 walk
Clayton Kershaw gets the call on Tuesday night (6:40 p.m., SportsNet LA), with right-hander Merrill Kelly starting for the Diamondbacks. The Padres’ game in Seattle against the Mariners starts at the same time, for those who want to follow along for division-clinching purposes.