Dodgers tangled by Webb in Game 1 shutout

October 9th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mookie Betts sent a Logan Webb sinker into right field to open Friday’s game with a single. As Betts touched first base, he turned to the visiting dugout to complete the team celebration that comes after a hit.

For a second, Betts and the Dodgers were able to silence a raucous sold-out crowd at Oracle Park, with many Giants fans waving their orange towels leading up to the much-anticipated first postseason meeting between the two longtime rivals.

But over the next couple of hours, the scene looked much different for the Dodgers. In a 4-0 loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, the Dodgers’ lineup was unable to get anything going against Webb, who picked them apart for 7 2/3 scoreless innings, sending nearly every Los Angeles hitter back into the dugout in disappointment.

It certainly wasn’t the start to the series the Dodgers envisioned, and now they’ll have to defy some postseason odds. In postseason history, teams that take a 1-0 lead in any best-of-five series have gone on to win the series 101 of 140 times (72 percent).

“I think, to be quite honest, we didn’t make adjustments,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “If you don’t make adjustments, then they’re going to keep going to the well, and that was kind of the story of it.”

Starter Walker Buehler fought through some early command issues. The right-hander gave up a two-run homer in the first inning to Buster Posey, but he was able to settle down as the game went on, allowing just three runs over 6 1/3 innings.

The Dodgers will enter Game 2 with the same level of confidence in left-hander Julio Urías, who led the Majors with 20 wins this season. But if the Dodgers want to come back to win a series, they’re going to need a much better performance from an offense that has plenty of firepower, but struggled to be consistent throughout the regular season despite leading the NL with 830 runs.

The Dodgers have scored just three runs in their two postseason games.

While the Dodgers say they still feel confident in their offense heading into Game 2, not having All-Star first baseman Max Muncy is proving to be a huge loss to the lineup. Muncy, who is recovering from an elbow injury and will likely be unavailable unless the Dodgers make a run to the World Series, was a force in the middle of the order, leading the team with a career-high 36 homers. He also tormented the Giants this season, hitting eight homers and posting a 1.056 OPS.

“Max obviously, this [year] and last year, he's a threat. He gets on base. He can drive runs in,” Roberts said. “And when you're talking about games like this, every base matters and keeping the line moving, and it's a big void, but it's where we're at.”

In his absence, the Dodgers are going to need someone to step up in order to fill the void. Nobody did so in the series opener, particularly in the bottom of the order. The trio of Matt Beaty, Cody Bellinger and AJ Pollock -- who occupied the six-through-eight spots in the lineup -- combined to go 0-for-9 with five strikeouts. If you include the ninth spot in the order, the Dodgers went hitless in 12 at-bats.

“I think that there’s a few guys that, in my opinion, I thought took great at-bats all night long,” Roberts said. “And granted, Logan was really good. But outside of that, there were guys at the top and the bottom [of the lineup] that didn’t take good at-bats tonight.”

As they search for more offense, the Dodgers will insert Chris Taylor, the hero of the NL Wild Card Game, into their starting lineup to play center field in Game 2. Bellinger will start at first base, likely sending Beaty to the bench.

“It’s a big bat in the middle of the order that we’re missing, but we’re still fine,” catcher Will Smith said. “We’re still fine without [Muncy] and we got plenty of guys to drive in runs.”

Los Angeles had a chance to score in the first, but a Justin Turner grounder back up the middle hit Webb’s leg, and he was able to recover to throw out Turner to end the inning. After that, Webb cruised through the L.A. lineup with a lethal slider, sinker and changeup combination. The 21 whiffs recorded by Webb tied Blake Snell for the most by any pitcher against the Dodgers since the start of 2020.

“I feel like the game plan really never changed. It's just attack the guys,” said Webb, who improved to 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers this year. “They don't chase. It's just like us, we don't chase, very similar. When you attack early I feel like you start to get more chase at the end, and [that’s] kind of just how the game went today.”

Though Webb deserves a lot of credit for the Dodgers’ quiet night at the plate, the offense didn’t do itself any favors, either. The longest at-bats of the night were a pair of six-pitch at-bats by Pollock. Other than that, the Dodgers swung early in the count, mostly unsuccessfully. Los Angeles saw only 103 total pitches, the fewest they’ve had in a game in which they batted in nine innings since July 11, 2015, against the Brewers.

It was also just the fourth game in their postseason history that the Dodgers were held to no runs, five or fewer hits and drew no walks.