When Walker Buehler struck out the side in the first inning on a mere 12 pitches, it served as a precursor of what was to come in an eventual 4-1 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the San Diego Padres.
Buehler had four strikeouts as he was perfect through two innings, and picked up two more after allowing a leadoff single in the third. He finished the night with 15 strikeouts in a second career complete game.
Just looking at the way he was throwing the baseball, there was no stress, the delivery wasn’t compromised at all, he was getting ahead all night long,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
“He had his way with a good lineup. It’s hard to imagine him having more command than he did tonight.”
Buehler’s first complete game was against the Colorado Rockies on June 21, when he set a career high with 16 strikeouts.
Both performances came without the young right-hander issuing a single walk. That’s put Buehler in elite company along with Pedro Martínez (1999 and 2000) and Dwight Gooden (1984) as the only pitchers in MLB history with multiple starts with 15 strikeouts and zero walks in a single season.
Buehler additionally joined Sandy Koufax (1959, 1960, 1962) in Dodgers franchise history as the lone pitchers with multiple 15-strikeout games in one season.
The double-digit strikeout performance was the fifth of Buehler’s career, with four of those remarkably coming this season. Overall, there have been six games in which a pitcher reached 15 strikeouts, and Buehler can lay claim to two of them.
Moreover, there have been just four complete games with 12 strikeouts this season, of which Buehler also has two.
“Just landing the breaking stuff. I think that’s kind of the key to everything,” he said after the dominant performance. “If throw first-pitch strikes and land breaking balls, I think I can be tough. I did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
Buehler was well on his way to a shutout before allowing a pinch-hit home run to Manuel Margot in the eighth inning. “I think Margot hit the worst pitch I threw all night, so hats off to him,” he said, adding the hanging breaking ball was a “cement-mixer slider.”
The 25-year-old improved to 5-0 with a 2.54 ERA in 10 starts at Dodger Stadium. He has 86 strikeouts over 67.1 innings pitched in those games, but rather than tout that success believes the home dominance needs to translate to other parks.
“To me that just says I got to get better on the road,” Buehler said.