LOS ANGELES -- When Walker Buehler was an emerging prospect in the Dodgers’ farm system, there were rumblings that the young right-hander was going to be dominant on the mound.
Buehler has pitched in plenty of big games in his Major League career as he’s grown into one of the many aces the Dodgers have in their starting rotation. Before the start of Friday night’s game, manager Dave Roberts said that he expects the team to win every time Buehler takes the mound.
The skipper’s expectations came to fruition as the Dodgers beat the Mets, 3-2, behind Buehler’s 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball at Dodger Stadium. With Buehler securing his first career win over the Mets and the Giants losing to the A’s, Los Angeles moved to 1 1/2 games back of first place in the National League West.
The win was the Dodgers' eighth straight and 12th in their last 13 games.
“I think that every start that he's made has been a quality start except the one,” said Roberts on Buehler making a case for the NL Cy Young. “You look at the quality of opponents that he's faced, that's certainly got to be layered in. And when you're talking about the No. 1 pitcher who's been here all year on the best team, that should [make his] case.”
Buehler cruised through the Mets in his second consecutive start against the East Coast team with 107 pitches (73 strikes) and eight punchouts. He took the no-decision after he struck out 10 batters and surrendered one homer on Aug. 14, though the Dodgers fought their way back to win the game in extras.
Pete Alonso was the only batter in New York’s lineup who bested Buehler in the game. He connected on a slider off the plate, with a 55 percent hit probability, and crushed it to center field for 387 feet, per Statcast.
Alonso was also the last batter Buehler faced, as his swinging-bunt grounder scored the Mets’ second run, causing the right-hander to crouch over on the mound in displeasure.
The Mets have troubled the 27-year-old in the past, as his 4.24 ERA in three previous outings was his third-highest mark against opposing teams in his career. Though Buehler walked off the mound to a standing ovation with two on and two out in the eighth, home-plate umpire Nestor Ceja ejected Buehler from the game after the right-hander had a fiery exchange with him while walking into the dugout.
“[I was] just trying to be competitive and thinking that I'm making pitches that are probably balls,” Buehler said of the ejection. “It was a little frustrating there at the end. Nestor told me to stop and I didn't stop, so I get what he did and that's his job. But at the end of the day, I'm trying to try to be competitive and get out of there.”
Alex Vesia took over for Buehler and walked Michael Conforto to load the bases, but the Dodgers narrowly escaped the threat with Vesia striking out J.D. Davis to end the inning. Then, Kenley Jansen shut the door in the ninth by retiring the side in order on seven pitches, all strikes.
Justin Turner put Los Angeles on the board in the first by plating Trea Turner on a groundout. The Dodgers extended their lead in the third with Max Muncy and Corey Seager driving in runs.
It was the Dodgers' fifth one-run win during their eight-game winning streak, which began with a sweep of the Mets in New York last weekend. But Buehler, now an emerging NL Cy Young contender, was the force behind the victory.
"It's not something that I really care about,” Buehler said. “I want us to win games and win the division and get to the playoffs and do what we did last year and what we set out to do every year. If I somehow put us in a position and have a type [of season] here to be in [the Cy Young] conversation, that's great. But at the end of the day, it's about winning games, and that's my big focus.”