Mookie Betts lifts Dodgers with win over Diamondbacks

Mookie Betts lifts Dodgers with win over Diamondbacks

Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts, center, is greeted by manager Dave Roberts after hitting a single to win a 3-2 baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Los Angeles, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. Freddie Freeman scored.  (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, left, is greeted by manager Dave Roberts after he hit a walk-off single to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 3-2 win at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. Freddie Freeman scored. (Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

Four hours before the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 on Thursday on a walk-off hit by Mookie Betts, all eyes in blue were on the Dodger Stadium pitcher’s mound.

Manager Dave Roberts and bench coach Bob Gueren stood near the third-base line, arms crossed. President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman watched while engaging in conversation with Betts. A good half dozen Dodgers pitchers leaned against the railing of the dugout, watching each pitch.

No one needed to state the obvious: What they were seeing could seriously affect their postseason fortunes.

Tony Gonsolin, on the injured list since Aug. 29 with a sprained forearm, was fielding teammates Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, Hanser Alberto and Miguel Vargas. The All-Star right-hander held nothing back, throwing his four-seam fastball, slider, curveball and split-finger fastball.

Gonsolin, whose injury ended a season that included a 16-1 record and 2.10 ERA, took a spot in the dugout while reliever David Price — also on the injured list — faced the same four batters. Gonsolin returned for another frame, and when he was done with the two-vacancy simulation known as the “up-down,” there were guarded smiles all around.

“I thought things were good, the arm speed was good and he used the whole pitch mix, which was great,” Roberts said. “Assuming he comes out of it well, there will be a bullpen in a couple of days, then another live two-three innings, hopefully, up and down. Really encouraging for Tony.”

Equally encouraging was the ninth-inning rally to overcome a 2-1 deficit that allowed the Dodgers to split the four-game series. Cody Bellinger led off with a double – just missing a home run – and Will Smith and Max Muncy followed with an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman with infield singles to tie the score. With two outs, Betts pinch hit for Joey Gallo, fouled off a pitch and singled to left field to score Freeman.

Betts had the night off, but he made some dents in the batter’s cage in the ninth inning in case he needed to.

“I was hoping not to hit,” Betts said, “but you’re in a situation that calls for it and you turn your mind on and you’re ready to go.”

Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel, swinging as ever, hit Christian Walker’s home run in the top of the ninth, tying the game in a game highlighted by dominant pitching from Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen, who struck out 13 and allowed only two main players. in eight innings.

The pitcher who might be the Dodgers’ next best option — Blake Treinen — admitted Thursday that he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to compete in the playoffs.

Treinen was conspicuously absent during Gonsolin’s prelude before the game. Unable to avoid shoulder pain, the prized reliever stayed in the clubhouse talking to a member of the training staff while Gonsolin and Price pitched.

Roberts had expressed skepticism a day earlier that Treinen would be healthy for the playoffs. The pitcher did not contradict his manager.

“The body is such a frivolous thing that it’s a little difficult to bounce back like I wanted to,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s a definitive answer one way or the other yet. All I can do is try to get to a point where I can use, where I can help the team.”

Hard-hitting Brusdar Graterol returned from the injured list Thursday, a welcome addition to a bullpen anchored by right-hander Evan Phillips, left-hander Alex Vesia and Kimbrel. Treinen’s inclusion is tenuous at best.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías throws during the first game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urías throws during the first game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. (Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

“I would use the word frustrating,” Roberts said of Treinen’s situation. “He’s not bouncing back. We’re going to give him a couple days without pitching, then he’ll get a baseball on Saturday and see how he reacts.”

Gonsolin is much closer to a return and would be a huge boost. After being inactive for almost a month, his stamina may not be enough to last more than three to four innings. However, he has given up only 76 hits in 128 1/3 innings.

Without him, the postseason rotation could consist of four left-handers: Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Anderson. All are enjoying good seasons, but Heaney and Anderson have no postseason experience. Right-hander Dustin May is in the mix, but has been inconsistent in six starts since returning from Tommy John surgery.

“I don’t expect it to be the same buildup as before he went to IL, but I think giving us a chance to get some valuable innings is still playing,” Roberts said of Gonsolin. “He starts a game? Then it’s up to us to see how long we can run him out there.”

Lux had decent luck against Gonsolin and Price in the mock game, holding up two fingers and insisting to coaches Mark Prior and Dino Ebel that he had two hits. Coaches vetoed Lux’s claim, saying if the defense had been in turnovers, he wouldn’t have hit. Lux barked back, but it was all in good fun.

Moments later, Lux threw balls from a trainer’s mushroom bat until he was huffing, puffing and sweating profusely. Then the game began and he proceeded to make a bad decision, spinning and throwing wildly to second base after fielding a grounder several steps to his left in the third inning. The error led to the Diamondbacks’ first run.

The Dodgers responded with two outs in the fourth against Gallen, who showed a devastating curveball when he retired the first 11 batters – six on strikeouts. Smith tripled and Manci doubled to tie the game at 1-1.

Those were the Dodgers’ only base runners through eight innings — Gallen retired the next 13 in a row, including seven more with strikeouts. The right-hander is having a breakout season with a 12-3 record and a 2.46 ERA. Still, Gallen had thrown 98 pitches — 77 for strikes — and manager Torey Lovullo picked him up.

Roberts pulled Uriah in favor of Phillips after the Diamondbacks’ first two batters of the sixth inning pinched the ball — Stone Garrett doubled to left-center and Emmanuel Rivera grounded Muncie to third. Urias threw 89 pitches — 62 strikes — while giving up three hits and striking out five. Phillips struck out two batters to end the threat, Vecia struck out the side in the seventh and Graterol pitched a one-two-three eighth.

To the Dodgers’ delight, the Diamondbacks replaced Gallen with Reyes Moronta, whom the Dodgers had designated for assignment several weeks ago. Neither Moronda nor left-hander Joe Madiply were up to the task, and Betts – his brain clearly on – managed it.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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