The Los Angeles Dodgers were in cruise control for the first six innings of Friday’s series opener against the New York Mets as they built a four-run lead and received an effective start from Julio Urias.
The left-hander allowed only two hits across five shutout innings on 82 pitches before being removed for Corey Knebel, who tossed a scoreless sixth in what marked his second appearance since coming off the 60-day injured list.
Brusdar Graterol was given the ball in the bottom of the seventh and promptly struck out his first two batters faced. He then allowed a two-out double to Michael Conforto and was replaced by Justin Bruihl, who looked to get out of the inning unscathed.
Despite having the split advantage, the left-hander immediately gave up an RBI bloop single to Dominic Smith. He allowed the next four batters to reach base before being removed in favor of Blake Treinen, who put out the fire but not before the Mets tied the game on a passed ball.
“Looking at the next three or four hitters, they were left-handed,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his decision to replace Graterol with Bruihl.
“This was three in four for Brusdar. We haven’t done that very often to him, so for him to pitch, it was a conversation. For him to face the two hitters, the double from Conforto, Justin has been very good for us.
“So to give him two cracks to get through that inning and get the ball to the eighth and not push Brusdar, I felt it was the best chance to get through that inning. A couple unlucky, soft balls that found outfield grass, it’s baseball.
“If I had to do the same thing again, I would do it again.”
After intentionally walking Pete Alonso, Roberts opted to leave Bruihl in to face the left-handed Jeff McNeil. The decision backfired as McNeil singled to center field and drove in two runs.
“I trust Justin against the lefty, and there’s the cost of having Treinen potentially do an up and down,” Roberts said of not letting Treinen pitch to McNeil.
“We’ve leaned on him, so if I could get McNeil, I could stay away from the up and down, which ultimately happened but that’s not where I wanted to be. I still trust Justin against a lefty. We just didn’t get him right there.”
Roberts explains intentionally walking Alonso
When the Dodgers intentionally walked Alonso, he represented the tying run and eventually came around to score on a passed ball. “It’s kind of a probability thing for me,” Roberts said of putting Alonso on base.
“Just kind of seeing where Justin is at, I didn’t see him commanding the baseball. I understand that whoever wrote a book said you don’t put the winning run at the plate, but I didn’t like the matchup and didn’t want him to tie the game.
“I liked [Bruihl] against McNeil and felt he could keep it in the ballpark and keep a lead. That ball got away from Will or else we would’ve got through that inning. That’s baseball. It happens. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t let Alonso beat us in that spot.”
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