DENVER – Any game in Coors Field is like a dark merry-go-round in an amusement park. You never know how long it will last, so you buckle up and hope you have all your possessions in the end.
The Dodgers failed to come out safely on Wednesday night, losing 10-5 to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in a game that cast doubt on a pitcher the Dodgers will rely on in October .
Walker Buehler faced 18 batters, failing to make four innings for the second time in four starts this month. He allowed seven hits, including one home run and two doubles – a fatal two-runner hit by the opposing pitcher that ended Buehler’s night after 3-2 / 3 innings. Of the 74 shots he threw, the Rockies swung and missed just four times.
At the end of August, Buehler was the favorite for the National League’s Cy Young Award with a 2.05 ERA and a 0.187 batting average in 27 starts. There was some debate to be had as to whether the Dodgers should pitch him or Max Scherzer in a possible wildcard playoff game.
There’s no more debate, no more Cy Young in Buehler’s immediate future – and a diminishing possibility that the Dodgers will be able to avoid that wildcard playoff game. The San Francisco Giants (99-53) beat the Padres, 8-6, in San Diego on Wednesday night, pushing their NL West lead over the Dodgers (97-55) to two games with 10 left in the regular season.
In four starts this month, batters hit 0.317 against Buehler, fueling a 7.32 ERA. The Dodgers have lost three of those starts.
“For me, it’s one of those things where I’m kind of trying to get back to who I am and what I’m trying to do,” Buehler said. “These last four have not been up to what I want. I think in the future we have to understand this and prepare to leave. ”
Buehler and Julio Urias were the only constant in the Dodgers’ starting rotation this season. But both started to show signs of fading in September. For Buehler, Wednesday was his career-high 31st start of the season, and he pitched 195-2 / 3 innings, surpassing his career high three starts ago.
“I don’t think the time of year or the innings are to blame,” Buehler said. “I think it’s an ‘Me’ problem and something that I have to work out and fix. We have a great team and a lot of guys who are really talented. I want to be a cog in this. I don’t necessarily have to be the only one in there. I just want to fit in and right now I’m not even doing it. I’ll take care of it and figure it out.
Buehler appears to be trying to remedy that by reducing his mix of terrains and relying more on his fastball than he has for most of this season.
“I think it’s pretty self-explanatory – I don’t like where I am, let’s get back to what made me a little bit successful in this league,” he said. “Try to establish that and go forward from there. But at the end of the day I didn’t make any throws and they did some good swings on decent throws halfway through.
The Dodgers gave Buehler a 3-0 lead early in the third. Gavin Lux ran with a line through the shortstop hole, aggressively stretching him into a double. Luke Raley followed with the Dodgers’ longest home run of the season, a 472-foot commuter flight to Nebraska.
But the Rockies scored five times late in the inning.
Brendan Rodgers started off with a homerun and the next four hitters scored singles in a variety of ways. Buehler made Elias Diaz fly and struck out Sam Hilliard at bat. With Rockies starter German Marquez in the lead, Buehler was about to escape further damage. But Marquez lined up a ball against the wall in the middle of the pitch, scoring two more points and ending Buehler’s night.
The five-run inning was more than Buehler allowed more than 13 innings in two previous starts at Coors Field this season.
“Walker is trying to figure out some things after his last starts and I have no doubts he will,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
“I think he’s obviously doomed for discovering the fastball. With that comes control and sequencing. He has the ability to throw a lot of different throws. I think it’s important to sequence well, not to go bullish with a certain pitch. But with Walker he’s an easy guy to bet on.
Marquez restored the lead he had created by running three of the top four hitters in the fifth inning. One point scored on a goal-laden march and another when Justin Turner drove a goal-laden flying ball to right field. But Trea Turner was caught on second base when Charlie Blackmon threw behind him and the potential big end fizzled there.
The Rockies took the lead for good in the fifth when Dodgers left-hander Justin Bruihl gave up a debut single and hit Blackmon with a pitch. Brusdar Graterol replaced him and released an RBI single to Trevor Story.
After Corey Seager’s single in the fifth inning, the Dodgers didn’t have another hit until Mookie Betts scored with two strikeouts in the ninth. By then, the game had already collapsed on them when the Rockies scored four unearned runs in the seventh inning.
The inning began with Blackmon kicking a ball to the right of the pitcher’s mound. Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia picked it up and ran to score Blackmon. The two collided, Vesia fell hard near first base and dropped the ball.
“It was the jawbone (where Vesia was hit),” Roberts said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the outcome of this round.”
Vesia stayed but only struck out two of the next six hitters he faced, giving Sam Hilliard a three-run homerun after Roberts chose to intentionally step on wide receiver Elias Diaz in order to set up a game. left to left for Vesia to come out of the round.