NEW YORK -- Maybe the Dodgers were just trying to erase their extra-innings woes over the weekend.
After entering the series with a dreadful 1-12 record in extra innings that had everyone scratching their heads, the Dodgers have responded with back-to-back wins in extras following a 2-1 victory over the Mets on Saturday at Citi Field.
“I think everyone knows what’s on the line, what’s on the table,” said Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger. “We just try and take care of our business and that’s the only thing we can control.”
Dodgers ace Walker Buehler certainly took care of his business, something he’s done all season long. Buehler allowed just one run and struck out 10 over seven innings of work in yet another dominant outing for the right-hander.
Outside of a Michael Conforto solo homer in the fourth, the Mets struggled to get anything going against Buehler through six innings. In the seventh, the Mets got the first two runners on, but Buehler was able to find another gear, retiring the next three batters he faced to end his outing. Buehler’s season ERA is now 2.09, the best in the Majors among qualified starters.
“There’s a switch that goes on with the great ones,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I think he understood where he was at in the lineup, where he was at with his pitch count and he was smelling the finish line. Guys like that just have a way of turning it up a dial and he did that tonight, which he’s done time and time again.”
With Julio Urías going on the injured list minutes before Saturday’s game, the Dodgers have now placed 14 different pitchers on the IL this season. Having Buehler go every fifth or sixth day has been the only constant for Los Angeles this season. Every time another pitcher goes down, even more responsibility falls on Buehler as the Dodgers continue to chase the Giants, whom they trail by four games in the National League West after San Francisco fell to Colorado on Saturday.
The heavy load has certainly not impacted Buehler, as he’s a legitimate Cy Young Award contender with five weeks left in the regular season. But for Buehler, the focus is on trying to help the Dodgers win a ninth consecutive division title.
“We gotta make the playoffs, man,” Buehler said. “My big thing is trying to be a piece of that equation and push us where we want to go. The individual stuff is cool, but when the team isn’t where we want to be, I think it’s kind of meaningless at this point.”
With Buehler dealing on the mound, the Dodgers had enough time to break through against Mets right-hander Taijuan Walker, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Will Smith had other plans.
Smith, who delivered the game-winning two-run homer on Friday, launched a game-tying solo homer off Walker in the seventh. That helped get the game into extra innings. Once in extras, it was Bellinger who delivered the big hit, an RBI double that ultimately proved to be the winning run.
“I think there’s a little bit of urgency for us and I think we’re playing like that, finally,” Buehler said. “Good team win for us and kind of representative of what we do in a lot of ways.”
Part of the team win were the key performances out of the bullpen. Despite having four relievers unavailable, including Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ bullpen secured some huge outs. Phil Bickford and Alex Vesia each recorded four outs. Corey Knebel then locked down the save by retiring Brandon Nimmo in the bottom of the 10th.
“They played a huge part in where we’re at and tonight, obviously,” Roberts said. “It’s really fun to see those guys who, before the season started, I didn’t know who they were, and to play such an impactful role for our club, it’s really fun to see.”