Dodgers 5 Rockies 2: Clinchmas Eve?

Sep 23, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (center) tags Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (left) at home during the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (center) tags Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (left) at home during the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dodgers took game two against the Rockies after an emotional ceremony for Vin Scully

The Dodgers won before their game even started today. They held a pregame ceremony for Vin Scully, and it was incredible. Then, they went ahead and beat the Rockies for good measure.

Dodgers Starter

I’m gonna cheat a little bit here. Scott Kazmir started the game for the Dodgers. He allowed a leadoff single, and after getting a lineout, got a ball hit back to him to start a double play. His throw to second was low and forced Chase Utley to make an awkward catch, and he hurried a throw to first and threw it away. With Nolan Arenado at second, Carlos Gonzalez singled to left, but Andrew Toles‘ throw home beat Arenado and Kazmir had a scoreless first.

After 19 pitches, Kazmir was pulled with a rib injury. So this is where I’m cheating, as Ross Stripling tossed the next three innings.

Stripling got in a bit of trouble in the third, as a single, bunt, single and stolen base put runners on second and third with one out. D.J. LeMahieu hit a sinking fly ball to right, and Josh Reddick made a fantastic diving catch to hold the runners. Stripling then struck out Arenado to escape the jam.

Stripling walked a pair of batters in the fourth, but kept the Rockies off the board. He needed 57 pitches to finish three innings, but he gave the Dodgers some length after the starter only completed one inning.

Dodgers Offense

Jon Gray was so dominant in his last start against the Padres, but he couldn’t find the strike zone to begin today’s game.

After striking out Utley to lead off the game, Gray walked Corey Seager, hit Justin Turner and walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases. Yasmani Grandal did not hit a grand slam this time, but he did bloop a single to right to score a pair of runners. He ended up striking out the side, but the offense got off to a quick start.

Other than the walks, Gray was weirdly dominating. He allowed back-to-back homers in the fourth inning to make it 4-0. The first was a laser shot by Joc Pederson, the second was Andre Ethier‘s first homer of the season. That was nice to see.

Gray was pulled after needing 106 pitches to complete four innings. He allowed the four runs, three hits and three walks. However, of the 12 outs he recorded, 10 of them came via strikeout. Turner’s third inning groundout and Reddick’s fourth inning lineout were the only two balls put in play that weren’t hits or didn’t leave the park.

The offense went quietly until the seventh. Utley was hit by a pitch to lead off and went first-to-third on a single. This was cashed in on a sac fly for a fifth Dodger run.

Dodgers Bullpen

So Stripling was “technically” the first reliever. I already covered his night.

Luis Avilan pitched the fifth inning and had another perfect outing. He’s staking his claim for a postseason roster spot.

Josh Fields was called in for the sixth and immediately allowed Arenado’s 40th homer of the season. There’s no shame in giving one up to him. He’s quite good at hitting baseballs.

After a lineout, Fields got David Dahl to ground to short. Seager rushed his throw a bit and tossed the ball into the Rockies’ dugout, putting Dahl at second. A single cashed in the error to make it 4-2, but Fields got out of it with no further damage.

Next: Will LHP Burn LA in the Postseason?

Pedro Baez needed 13 pitches for a perfect seventh and added a strikeout in the eighth before getting pulled. In nine appearances since returning from the minors, Baez has allowed eight baserunners, no runs and struck out 13. I want to believe he’s fixed, but he still scares me more than he probably should.

Grant Dayton relieved Baez and gave up a bloop double to Gonzalez. He bounced back nicely with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning and keep the Dodgers ahead.

Kenley Jansen got the ninth and recorded his 47th save of the season, striking out two in the process.

Other Stuff

The Padres defeated the Giants 7-2, so the magic number is down to two and the lead in the division is up to seven. Not bad. It’s time to start looking at the Nats, as they lost today. The Dodgers and Nats are all but guaranteed to face off in the NLDS, with the team with the better record getting home field. With the win, the Dodgers move to 1.5 games back of them.

The Dodgers can clinch tomorrow with a win and a Giants loss. They can also control their own fate, as two wins gives them the division title on Sunday.

It’s only right that the Dodgers clinch this weekend with Scully on the mic.

I must give a ton of props to everyone involved with the pregame ceremonies tonight. There’s a bunch of videos here. Grab some kleenex and watch them all.

Clayton Kershaw gets the ball tomorrow with a possible chance to clinch the division for the Dodgers. Chad Bettis gets the start for Colorado.