Forget everything you learned this season.
In the Year of the Home Run, the long ball ruled. Launch angles and exit velocity were the ‘woke’ and ‘lit’ of Statcast Era-speak – all three years of it – terms you had to toss around or risk being seen as, well, half-woke and un-lit.
But the Arizona Diamondbacks have hit six home runs in the first two games of their National League Division Series – and lost both games. The Dodgers did their part in baseball’s power surge, hitting a franchise-record 221 home runs during the regular season, but only one in this series, none on their way to an 8-5 victory in Game 2 on Saturday.
The Dodgers head to Arizona for Game 3 with their first 2-0 lead in a postseason series since their NLDS sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009.
The Dodgers have scored 17 runs on 24 hits in the two victories over the Diamondbacks, only one of them went over the fence – Justin Turner’s three-run opening salvo in Game 1.
They took a variety-pack approach to scoring Saturday. They got runs on an infield single, a ground out, a wild pitch, an error, two conventional singles and – Austin Barnes muscling up for extra bases – a double.
Both starters, lefties Robbie Ray and Rich Hill, found home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi’s strike zone shy and mysterious. Hill gave up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning, walked three in four innings and was gone after 78 pitches.
Ray came into the game labeled as a Dodgers killer after he had four double-digit strikeout games against them this season (the most any pitcher has had in a single season against the Los Angeles Dodgers). The Dodgers had hit just .194 against him in his career before this.
Many species of fish and birds have migratory patterns but no creature is more addicted to routine than a starting pitcher. Ray’s routine was thrown into disarray Wednesday night when Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo turned to him for 2-1/3 innings of relief in the wild-card game.
Whatever those 34 pitches took out of him – or did to his between-starts routine – Ray was clearly not the same pitcher the Dodgers whiffed against during the regular season. He walked four of the first 10 batters he faced – aided in part by Cuzzi — threw three wild pitches and hit a batter.
The Dodgers scored one run in the second inning without a hit (two walks, a wild pitch and a run-scoring ground out did the trick) and two more in the fourth on three consecutive singles at the bottom of the lineup (Logan Forsythe, Austin Barnes and Yasiel Puig) and an infield hit from leadoff man Chris Taylor.
The top five batters in their order drove in all nine runs in Game 1 and combined for nine hits. In Game 2, it was the bottom half that did the damage. Forsythe, Barnes (a double) and Puig drove in four runs in the fifth inning with another string of hits.
Hill’s early exit left 15 outs for the Dodgers’ bullpen to collect and they couldn’t get there without giving up a Diamondbacks homer – a three-run Brandon-on-Brandon crime (Drury off Morrow). Hill reemerged during the seventh inning with a large man-made cardboard sign which he held up in the Dodgers’ dugout exhorting fans to ‘Make Some Noise.’
Two things Dodger Stadium does not lack are noise – and prompts to make some. Plenty greeted Kenley Jansen’s arrival in the eighth inning. The Dodgers closer got the final five outs for the save.