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Former top pick Buehler spins gem on Draft day

@JesseSanchezMLB
June 4, 2019

PHOENIX -- On one of the biggest days on the baseball calendar, an evening focused on the MLB Draft and the future of franchises across the game, the Dodgers were reminded of what happens when a club hits on top picks. Walker Buehler, the club’s first-round pick in 2015, gave

PHOENIX -- On one of the biggest days on the baseball calendar, an evening focused on the MLB Draft and the future of franchises across the game, the Dodgers were reminded of what happens when a club hits on top picks.

Walker Buehler, the club’s first-round pick in 2015, gave up two hits in eight strong innings to pace the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory against the D-backs on Monday in the first game of the three-game series at Chase Field between the division rivals.

Box score

Buehler struck out 11 hitters in the 102-pitch outing and was dominant from the start. He retired the side in the first inning on 14 pitches and no-hit the D-backs for the first 4 2/3 innings before giving up a home run to Christian Walker. Buehler kept D-backs hitters off balance the rest of the game on his way to his sixth victory and the Dodgers’ sixth in a row.

“The efficiency is the biggest thing for me,” Walker said. “I’m going to strike out guys in this league, and I’ve kind of shown that, but to get deeper in the games is obviously my goal. My only goal is to throw as many innings as possible.”

By all accounts, Walker’s outing was his best of the season, and he was able to succeed because the D-backs were swinging and missing at his breaking ball, but also getting beat by fastballs in fastball counts. Buehler was at his best when he was mixing it up and leaving hitters looking confused.

And no, the pitch to Walker was not a mistake.

“He’s a good hitter,” Buehler said. “I remember watching college games and I knew who Christian Walker was with South Carolina. I’ll tip my hat to a good hitter.”

It was fitting that Corey Seager, who was selected by the Dodgers 18th overall in 2012, provided all of the offense Buehler would need. The shortstop hit a three-run home run, his eighth home run of the season, off D-backs lefty Robbie Ray in the fourth inning.

“He’s a tough matchup, and he’s thrown really well against us the last couple of years,” Seager said. “We grinded and battled. I think we did a good job of that today. We had some ABs where we made him work. We didn’t always have something to show for it, but we ended up getting the win.”

Seager’s home run was his first hit against Ray since 2016. He finished 1-for-4 and now has four hits in 27 at-bats with 14 strikeouts against the Arizona left-hander. Three of his four career RBIs against Ray came Monday.

“He’s tough,” the shortstop said. “I kind of tried a bunch of different things and didn’t have success against it. I’m still trying to figure how to grind out hits. He’s good.”

Buehler was better.

“He pitched at the top of the zone when he needed to, but honestly, it was the fastball on both sides of the plate that was just dominating and missing bats all night long,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.