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    Dodgers can’t dig out of another hole in NLDS Game 2, face elimination by Diamondbacks
    • October 10, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — When Brusdar Graterol entered in the second inning Monday night, the theme song of wrestling star “The Undertaker” played over the stadium sound system. It was a reference to Graterol’s costume when the team dressed up on the final road trip of the regular season.

    Or was it more foreshadowing than a callback?

    The Dodgers have looked like dead men walking through much of the first two games of their National League Division Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks and a 4-2 loss in Game 2 on Monday night has pushed them to the brink of elimination.

    Down 2-0 in the best-of-five series, the Dodgers will try to avoid flat-lining in the first round for the second consecutive fall and the third time in the past five postseasons when they send Lance Lynn to the mound in Game 3 on Wednesday night at Chase Field in Phoenix.

    But the offense will also have to show up.

    The lineup that produced more than 900 runs during the regular season has scored just two in each NLDS game. Their twin MVP candidates, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, have gone a combined 1 for 13 with an infield single by Freeman in the first inning of Game 2 their only hit. Collectively, the Dodgers have hit .159 (10 for 63) in the series so far.

    The failures of their depleted starting rotation, however, have hogged the spotlight in the first two games.

    After Clayton Kershaw’s disastrous start in Game 1, the Dodgers turned to 24-year-old right-hander Bobby Miller, hoping that the rookie nicknamed ‘Bobby Ice’ would not melt on the postseason stage.

    Well, he did better than Kershaw.

    Miller lasted 11 batters, retiring five of them (one on a sacrifice bunt). His nerves were evident from the start. Only eight of his first 18 pitches found the strike zone including just two first-pitch strikes to the seven batters he faced in the first inning. Miller threw 15 breaking pitches (10 curveballs and five sliders) in the game. Only four were strikes and the Diamondbacks swung at just two.

    The Diamondbacks put their first three batters on base against Miller. Corbin Carroll drew a walk. Ketel Marte bunted for a single and Tommy Pham loaded the bases with a jam-shot single to left field.

    One run scored on a sacrifice fly, James Outman thumping into the center field wall to catch Christian Walker’s drive. Another scored on a ground out. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. drove in the third run of the inning with a two-out single to center field.

    Coupled with the Diamondbacks’ six-run first inning against Kershaw, it was the first time all year the Dodgers gave up three or more runs in the first innings of back-to-back games.

    On the off day on Sunday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he would manage Game 2 like a Game 7. He backed that up early, pulling Miller in the second inning and going to his two best relievers for much of the season, Graterol and Ryan Brasier, followed by Joe Kelly and Evan Phillips, extending each of them.

    They held the line for a rally that never materialized.

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    A solo home run by J.D. Martinez in the fourth inning was the Dodgers’ only damage against Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen. They put two runners on with two outs in the fifth but Gallen froze Freddie Freeman with a full-count curveball for a called third strike.

    When Gallen allowed back-to-back singles with one out in the sixth, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo brought an early hook. With a run of left-handed hitters coming up, Lovullo brought in rookie left-hander Andrew Saalfrank.

    Roberts countered with right-handed pinch-hitters Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez. Taylor walked to load the bases and Hernandez bounced a ground ball up the middle that Marte smothered behind second base, allowing one run to score but no more.

    Saalfrank struck out James Outman before Lovullo toggled to right-hander Ryan Thompson. Roberts responded by sending left-handed Kolten Wong up as a pinch-hitter. Wong grounded out, stranding the go-ahead runs, and Hernandez’s infield single was the Dodgers’ last hit of the night.

    More to come on this story.

    ​ Orange County Register