MONTERREY, Mexico -- The pitching legacy of the Dodgers stretches for the better part of a century, and Walker Buehler took his rightful place in it on Friday night after just his third Major League start.The rookie did the heavy lifting in the first combined no-hitter in Dodgers history. His
MONTERREY, Mexico -- The pitching legacy of the Dodgers stretches for the better part of a century, and Walker Buehler took his rightful place in it on Friday night after just his third Major League start.
The rookie did the heavy lifting in the first combined no-hitter in Dodgers history. His six electric innings in the rain were followed by one each from Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore in a 4-0 win over the Padres in the opener of the Mexico Series.
It was the 23rd no-hitter in Dodgers history, but the first combined. The last Dodgers no-no was thrown by Clayton Kershaw on June 18, 2014, against Colorado.
:: Dodgers no-hit Padres in Monterrey ::
Fittingly, it was the greatest Mexican Dodger ever, Fernando Valenzuela, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Valenzuela threw his no-hitter for the Dodgers in 1990 against the Cardinals.
Valenzuela made 119 pitches that night. Buehler, the Dodgers' top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was removed because he threw 93 pitches with three innings to go, the count run up by three walks and eight strikeouts.
That left Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who knows the terrain, to call it "pretty much a no-brainer" for the removal with three innings left of a pitcher who needed Tommy John surgery when he was drafted and has been handled delicately ever since.
"I just let him know, understanding how much of the game was left, he was totally complicit with where I was coming from and how important he is for the organization this year," Roberts said. "He completely understood." Well, maybe not completely.
"It's one of those where you're pretty angry to come out, but the bullpen guys we have, I trust it in their hands, and it worked out," Buehler told SportsNet LA coming off the field. "I get it 100 times. I understand what they're doing, but that's about as tough as it's ever been for me to be OK to come out of a game."
The Padres now see what all the fuss is about.
"Two different breaking balls he was throwing for strikes on both sides of the plate. He was throwing 98-99 mph," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It's tough to give credit to the pitcher sometimes, but he threw a good game and he had all of his pitches working to both sides of the plate. Sometimes you've got to tip your cap to their guy."
Buehler is now the third pitcher Roberts has removed from a masterpiece, having yanked Thomas Stripling from a no-hitter in San Francisco and Rich Hill from a perfect game. Buehler said his only other no-hitter was in high school, but he gave up two runs in the first inning "so that doesn't count."
Cingrani issued back-to-back one-out walks in the seventh, but he struck out Matthew Szczur and got a fielder's-choice grounder from Freddy Galvis. Garcia, just recalled after recovering from Tommy John surgery, struck out two in a perfect eighth inning, and in the ninth, Liberatore struck out a pair, getting Franchy Cordero to end it with a swing and a miss.
"It was amazing," said Liberatore, also a recent callup. "I knew the position I was in going into that last inning. Just wanted to give it my best effort and throw as hard as I could and just get three outs without blowing it."
"For the bullpen, it was a continued momentum booster for those guys," said Roberts, whose bullpen wobbled throughout April but is showing signs of stability in May.
Offensively, Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez slugged back-to-back home runs in the second inning after the Padres gave the Dodgers a gift first-inning run, so Buehler had an early lead to work with.
Buehler also was credited with his first Major League hit, when his sixth-inning grounder hit the foot of baserunner Alex Verdugo, who was automatically out.
The closest the Padres came to a hit off him was in the bottom of the third inning after back-to-back one-out walks to pitcher Joey Lucchesi and Jose Pirela. Hosmer hit a bullet that was caught by third baseman James Farmer, who doubled Lucchesi off second base.
"Hard-hit balls are outs, and our defense played unbelievable, obviously," Buehler said. "It was a cool night."
Roberts loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters against Padres starter Lucchesi and it paid off. Hernandez started at first base in place of Cody Bellinger.
The only left-handed hitter in the lineup, Verdugo, singled in the fourth run after pinch-hitter Chase Utley's triple. Verdugo was a member of Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Padres second baseman Pirela appeared to lose Matt Kemp's popup in the cloudy sky at dusk for a first-inning gift single, allowing Taylor to score the first run for the Dodgers. It was the only run of the inning, in which the Dodgers had five batters reach base safely, three on walks and two on singles.
According to Baseball-Reference, Buehler is the youngest Dodgers pitcher to pitch at least six no-hit innings since Rex Barney in 1948.
HE SAID IT
"To fly here and to fly outside of our country, where the atmosphere is different, to perform the way we did, it's almost humbling in a way, because you're able to put it together and it makes it a little bit sweeter, probably." -- Buehler, on the achievement
Kenta Maeda will make the Saturday 4:10 p.m. PT start against Bryan Mitchell and the Padres. Against the right-handed Mitchell, expect the return to the lineup of Bellinger, Joc Pederson and Utley.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.