A very patchy pitching plan and a very shaky defense at critical moments nearly cost the Dodgers Friday night.
However, a very catchy performance from Mookie Betts saved them in the end.
In a back-and-forth game that included six lead changes, three ties and 10 innings, it was Betts’ two homers, four hits and four RBIs that carried the Dodgers to a 10-6 win over the Miami Marlins on Friday night.
“Incredible,” said manager Dave Roberts. “It was just a great performance. We needed all of it.”
With the Dodgers trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, Betts hit a two-run home run to close his first deficit.
At the top of ninth after the Dodgers’ questionable decision to trust Phil Bickford with a one-run lead backfired, Betts saved the day again with a scoring blast that hooked right into the foul pole in left field .
And when the Dodgers couldn’t hold another lead after Justin Turner’s RBI single later in ninth, Betts prevailed again in the tenth and put the Dodgers back in the lead with an RBI double that determined a later five-run rally that the game brought out of reach.
“I just want to win,” said Betts, whose 20th multi-homer game of his career overtook Alfonso Soriano for the most in major league history. “It doesn’t matter where we are in the table. I just show up every day and I want to win. So I’ll just do whatever it takes to help the team.”
On Friday, he protected the Dodgers from some self-inflicted implosions.
After Bett’s home run made it 3-2 in the seventh inning, the Dodgers called on a struggling Bickford to try to defend the one-run lead at the end of the seventh inning.
Predictably, his outing did not go well.
Bickford gave up a leadoff single and then left with two batters to load the bases. He was gifted one when the Marlins’ No. 9 hitter Peyton Burdick came up with a bun. But then he gave a binding RBI single to Miguel Rojas on a fastball across the heart of the plate.
Left-hander Alex Vesia came up with two outs to try and clean up Bickford’s mess, but handed Joey Wendle a swinging Bunt single that put the Marlins ahead — raising Bickford’s ERA to 5.36 in the process.
“The lane was perfect for Phil,” said Roberts, noting that he was at the bottom of the Marlins’ lineup. “He just has to hit better.”
What only became clear after the game was how tight the Dodgers’ pitching staff was.
The team had already used top setup man Evan Phillips to relieve starter Tyler Anderson in the sixth after a dropped catch by Chris Taylor in second place on the only two runs (one of which was undeserved) against Anderson in 5⅓ innings led.
After the game, Roberts said the Dodgers also predetermined that right-hander Chris Martin and left-hander Caleb Ferguson would only field under extreme circumstances.
Roberts said Martin is struggling with an elbow problem and the team is still wary of Ferguson’s workload on his return from Tommy John surgery.
Given where the Dodgers (87-37) stand overall — they lead the National League West with 19½ games and hold a 7½-game advantage for the majors’ best record — Roberts also acknowledged that the game on Friday was the way in which the long-term costs of a potential overhaul of his pitching staff (and possibly pitcher injury) were factored into the short-term decisions made in the quest for a mostly insignificant win.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where health comes first,” Roberts said. “And I’m not going to compromise that for any reason now with where we are right now.”
However, by failing to thread the needle with Bickford, the Dodgers put another key helper in an awkward position.
The team also tried not to use Brusdar Graterol on Friday after the right-hander had already served twice on his return from a shoulder injury this week.
But then Bickford gambled away a lead in the seventh before David Price – who was asked to hit a ninth inning save after Craig Kimbrel pitched the eighth – squandered another one-run advantage on a solo home run by Burdick in the ninth .
That meant the Dodgers needed three more outs at the end of the 10th and eventually turned to Graterol — with infielder Hanser Alberto emerging as the only other option, according to Roberts.
“We didn’t play a good defense tonight,” Roberts said. “I don’t think we served as well as we could have.”
But thanks to Betts, as Roberts exhaled afterwards, “we ended up winning a ball game.”
Even if it was more dramatic than necessary.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-08-26/mookie-betts-is-clutch-powers-dodgers-10-inning-win-over-marlins ‘Unbelievable’ Mookie Betts powers Dodgers’ win over Marlins