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Dodgers fire on all cylinders in Buehler's gem

Dodgers righty fans 11 in 7 scoreless; Muncy, Pederson, Pollock homer
@kengurnick
July 21, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- Every Dodger appreciates playing with All-Star pitcher Walker Buehler, but A.J. Pollock is the only teammate who knows how discouraging it is to face him. With Cody Bellinger getting the day off, Pollock was one of three Dodgers to homer on Sunday in support of Buehler in

LOS ANGELES -- Every Dodger appreciates playing with All-Star pitcher Walker Buehler, but A.J. Pollock is the only teammate who knows how discouraging it is to face him.

With Cody Bellinger getting the day off, Pollock was one of three Dodgers to homer on Sunday in support of Buehler in a 9-0 win over the Marlins at Dodger Stadium that completed a series sweep. Back with the D-backs, Pollock went 1-for-4 against Buehler and only he can speak in the home clubhouse to what opponents really think.

Box score

“He’s the guy, when you face him, you’re in the locker room after the game and guys are talking about him,” said Pollock. “He’s got such an electric fastball, it feels like it speeds up over the plate. He’s a nightmare to face, for sure. Glad I’m on this side and can enjoy it from a better perspective.”

Pollock saw Buehler strike out 11 without a walk over seven scoreless innings, raising his record to 9-1 on the season and 4-0 at home. This was Buehler’s best start since his 16 strikeouts against Colorado on June 21 and his first scoreless start since June 15. His ERA is 3.23 and a .221 opponents average ticked below teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu’s .222.

“The fastball lane was consistent on the glove side,” said manager Dave Roberts. “[Buehler] was commanding the down-and-away low dart to the right-handed hitter. The cutter and breaking ball off that. Getting ahead all day. He could essentially do whatever he wanted.”

The Dodgers have the best record in baseball again and their division lead is a season-high 16 games.

Pollock drove in four runs, three with a seventh-inning home run, blowing open a game that included home runs from Joc Pederson and Max Muncy. With Buehler working crisply, the defense played a clean game without an error after committing 16 in the previous eight games.

All of that allowed Buehler to just pitch, which he did as well as Clayton Kershaw did on Saturday night (six scoreless innings) and Ryu on Friday night (one run in seven innings).

“I really liked the way it was coming out of my hand today,” Buehler said. “When you spin the fastball and you can get some angle on it, it’s going to help you out. What I’ve been searching for and kind of found it today -- trying to get the ball down and create the illusion where it stays up.”

Pollock, meanwhile, has been a new player since returning from elbow surgery that sidelined him for more than two months. Since returning after the All-Star break, Pollock is batting .406 with four homers and 12 RBIs in nine games. In 28 games before the surgery, he was batting .223 with two homers and 14 RBIs.

In addition to being healthy, Pollock credits his turnaround to better mechanics, better posture and a better mental approach. He can’t argue with the theory that, after signing a $55 million contract as a free agent, he was probably pressing to make a good impression.

“I’m not getting too up, too down now,” he said. “When you’re doing it, you don’t really notice it, but sure. I came out hot, maybe pushing too hard, trying to make things happen instead of letting the game come to you. You can watch on TV, you can see it in other players, but it’s hard when you’re facing 98 (mph) with sink, hard to be that relaxed and have that rhythm.

“I’m in a better place. It’s hard to tell you exactly what that means. Part of it is tempo. Part of it is, you come in here, you don’t know anyone. In Arizona, I knew everyone. For sure, getting hurt, you take a step back, and when you’re able to play again, there’s a lot that goes into it from an emotional standpoint. I was kind of reflecting on it when I was. I could see it. Guys have rhythm and for me something was a little off. [Being hurt stunk], but I’m sure there were some positives out of it.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.