Dodgers vs. Brewers score: L.A. starts World Series pursuit with victory as Mookie Betts, bullpen shine

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The Los Angeles Dodgers, the No. 1 seed in the National League, started things off the right way in Game 1 of the wild card round against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, winning 4-2 in a relatively quick. game. That's one down, 12 to go as far as the Dodgers are concerned, because anything less than a World Series title is not really acceptable at this point. 

Here are some of the main takeaways from Game 1.

Mookie sets the tone (Seager, too!)

This is why the Dodgers went out and got former MVP Mookie Betts. He led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and ended up scoring. He then doubled home a run in the second inning. Later, he barely missed a home run with a flyout to the left-field wall. Betts got off to a poor start this season for three or four games before playing like an MVP the rest of the way. He carried it over into Game 1. Oh, and Corey Seager in the two-hole provided insurance with a solo homer in the seventh. Not too shabby for the top of the order, combining for three hits, three runs and two RBI. 

Brewers felt pitching injuries 

The Brewers' pitching staff is already a bit more thin than the 2018 bunch that came within a game of the NL pennant. It was always going to be a tall order to go into Dodger Stadium and take two of three from a team that played like a 116-win team in the regular season. Things compounded in recent days, however, when word came down that ace starter Corbin Burnes (4-1, 2.11 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 88 K, 24 BB, 59 2/3 IP) was injured and (more recently) stud reliever Devin Williams (0.33 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 53 K, 9 BB, 27 IP) was also hurt. 

If the Brewers had both and scored the same two runs they did in Game 1, it's entirely possible they come away with a win. How? 

  • Starter Brent Suter allowed three runs in 1 2/3 innings before the Brewers needed to go to the bullpen. 
  • After Eric Yardley and Justin Topa dealt for 4 1/3 innings relieving Suter, Freddy Peralta allowed the Seager homer. 

Let's say Burnes throws as he has all season for about five or six innings and then Yardley/Topa get the Brewers through the seventh. Then it's Williams and Josh Hader to close things down. 

Alas, the Brewers did suffer these injuries and that's simply the reality. 

Yelich had two hard hits

Though the Brewers saw a good night from Avisail Garcia (three hits) and Orlando Arcia clubbed his fourth career playoff homer -- tying him with Prince Fielder for the franchise record -- the Brewers offense is all about Christian Yelich. The 2018 MVP who was the runner-up last season had a lackluster regular season (.205/.356/.430), but Wednesday he had a single and double. Both were scorched. That's a good sign moving to Game 2. The strikeouts against Walker Buehler in the first and Kenley Jansen in the ninth weren't really worrisome because, well, those guys are studs. It was a net-positive game for Yelich at the plate. 

Dodgers bullpen dominated

At 2.74, the Dodgers had the second-best bullpen ERA in baseball this season, just 0.02 behind the Oakland A's. They trailed only the Twins and Rays in bullpen WAR. They had a big lead in WHIP (1.04; the A's were second at 1.13). Possibly because of their huge names elsewhere, the group might've been overshadowed in the regular season. They got a bit of the spotlight in Game 1. 

After starter Walker Buehler gave up the two-run homer to Arcia, a game that seemed likely to be headed for a bloodbath was all of a sudden just a one-run Dodgers lead. 

No worries. The Dodgers bullpen stepped up with dominant performances. Julio Urias threw three scoreless innings, striking out five without issuing a single walk. Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen each followed with a scoreless inning apiece. 

Next up

They'll do it again Thursday evening with Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16) getting the ball for the Dodgers, looking to close things down in a nice-and-tidy two games. The Brewers counter with Brandon Woodruff (3-5, 3.05), their best healthy starting pitcher. 

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Blake Treinen pitches around a Garcia single in the eighth. The Brewers are down to their final three outs. Dodgers will look to tack on in the bottom of the eighth first

October 1, 2020, 5:01 AM

Statcast has the Seager bomb at 447 feet

October 1, 2020, 4:49 AM

Corey Seager with a LOOONG home run to center to make it 4-2 Dodgers. Even with the Dodgers' stellar bullpen, surely it feels nice to get that insurance run

October 1, 2020, 4:48 AM

Yelich is stranded after his two-out double and it heads to the bottom of the seventh, still 3-2 Dodgers

October 1, 2020, 4:41 AM

Brewers relievers Eric Yardley and Justin Topa have held the Dodgers in check. It's 3-2 Dodgers through five.

October 1, 2020, 4:02 AM
@Brewers via Twitter
October 1, 2020, 3:56 AM

October 1, 2020, 3:54 AM

Julio Urias is now in for the Dodgers and has yielded a one-out single to Christian Yelich

October 1, 2020, 3:49 AM

right on cue, Orlando Arcia homers and it's 3-2

October 1, 2020, 3:28 AM

Vogelbach double is followed by a rocket to the warning track from Garcia, but Betts is there. Still, Buehler is in control but not completely dominating at the moment and three runs isn't insurmountable

October 1, 2020, 3:27 AM

it'll stay at three runs allowed for Suter. Will Smith just flew out to the wall to give the Brewers another scare

October 1, 2020, 3:00 AM

Suter issues a two-out walk and he's done. His line so far: 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 0 K. He's responsible for two runners, so it's possible the ER jumps to four or five.

October 1, 2020, 2:56 AM

with the AL game in the top of the sixth, I wonder if this game could catch up? Seems very unlikely but at this rate we'll need a fun sub-plot

October 1, 2020, 2:50 AM

Chris Taylor and Mookie Betts double to start the bottom of the second and it's 3-0 Dodgers. Mookie with two doubles in two at-bats

October 1, 2020, 2:49 AM

Buehler pitches around a Avisail Garcia single. He's thrown 30 pitches through two with four strikeouts.

October 1, 2020, 2:43 AM

quite the save after the scary foul ball with a routine grounder. It's 2-0, but could have been way worse

October 1, 2020, 2:32 AM

OH MAN. Rios just barely missed a grand slam. Maybe 10 feet foul

October 1, 2020, 2:31 AM

after a Bellinger shallow pop out, Pollock takes a four-pitch walk. It's 2-0. Here comes Edwin Rios with the bases loaded. Brewers bullpen is in a fire drill

October 1, 2020, 2:30 AM

Betts could be seen whispering something to AJ Pollock in the on-deck circle after he scored. Wonder if he picked up on a tell from Suter, RE: tipping pitches

October 1, 2020, 2:29 AM

after getting Turner to pop out, Suter has issued back to back walks and it's 1-0 Dodgers

October 1, 2020, 2:27 AM

Corey Seager (who quietly had an excellent season worthy of down-ballot MVP votes) walks. Two on, no out for Turner. Already tenuous for the Brewers.

October 1, 2020, 2:20 AM

Mookie Betts leads off with a double

October 1, 2020, 2:18 AM

Suter isn't really a starter. Four of his 16 outings this year were starts. His longest outing was four innings and 59 pitches, though that was last time out so I suppose he could work up in the 70-75 pitch range.

October 1, 2020, 2:18 AM
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