PHOENIX — Duck. Duck. Goose … eggs.
Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson and Diamondbacks rookie Ryne Nelson – both University of Oregon alums – combined for a scoreless tie through six innings before the Dodgers broke it open against the Diamondbacks’ bullpen to take a 6-0 victory on Monday night at Chase Field.
The win – this time, for sure – re-clinched the postseason berth the Dodgers had celebrated Sunday in San Diego when they toasted the achievement and passed out hats with the official postseason logo on the side.
But they didn’t actually clinch a playoff spot on Sunday. MLB had miscalculated, failing to account for the mathematical possibility – but real-world improbability – that the Dodgers could lose their final 23 games, the Padres and Brewers could each win the rest of their games and a series of tiebreakers in a three- or four-way tie would all go against the Dodgers, leaving them without a playoff spot.
That outlandish scenario didn’t survive the day. But Nelson’s 0.00 career ERA did.
A second-round pick out of Oregon in the 2019 draft, Nelson made his big-league debut last week and held the Padres scoreless for seven innings.
Second verse, same as the first.
The Dodgers had just two hits in six innings against Nelson, advancing only one runner past first base. That was Trea Turner, who tripled into the right-field corner with two outs in the sixth inning.
The Diamondbacks opted to walk the latest NL Player of the Week, Freddie Freeman, to face Will Smith instead. Smith nearly made them regret that decision when he shot a line drive into the left-center field gap. Alex Thomas ran it down, however, to end the inning and the Dodgers’ lone scoring threat against Nelson.
Anderson’s time in Eugene ended almost a decade before Nelson’s. He had more work to do to get through his seven scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks.
Anderson had runners on base in each of the first four innings with Mookie Betts’ defense getting him out of potential trouble in the third – but not where he usually flashes his Gold Glove.
Betts started at second base Monday and showed his roots there are still strong. He made a nice running play on Thomas’ dribbler to start the inning, using his glove to shovel the ball to Freeman at first. After a single by Geraldo Perdomo, Betts made a nice turn at second base as Perdomo barreled in, getting the inning-ending double play.
Anderson stranded runners at the corners in the fourth and worked around a one-out double by Ketel Marte in the sixth before the Dodgers broke it open in the seventh.
The Diamondbacks changed Nelsons, bringing in lefty reliever Kyle to start the seventh. Max Muncy touched him for a 423-foot double off the high wall in straightaway center field, sparking a three-run inning that featured a go-ahead sacrifice fly by Trayce Thompson and a two-run double by Cody Bellinger.
In the ninth, the Dodgers doubled that lead on a three-run home run by Betts.
The win cut the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch their ninth NL West title in the past 10 years down to one – pending review by MLB, one has to assume.
More to come on this story.