Propelled by Jedd Gyorko’s ninth-inning heroics, the Los Angeles Dodgers secured a 3-2 comeback victory in Sunday night’s rubber match against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
For the second time in three matchups, the Dodgers faced an early deficit and relied on their pitching staff to keep them in the game. The Mets struck first when outfielder Brandon Nimmo delivered a two-run triple off Walker Buehler in the bottom of the second inning.
It was the only blemish on the night for the right-hander, who yielded just the two runs on two hits in five innings of work. He was removed by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts after throwing just 71 pitches in what was a predetermined plan to allow a select group of relievers to get some work in.
Pedro Baez was the first man up, and he promptly tossed a scoreless sixth inning while lowering his ERA to a solid 3.17. Dustin May followed suit with a shutout frame of his own despite having to strand two baserunners.
After pulling even with the Mets courtesy of an RBI double by Chris Taylor in the eighth, Kenley Jansen was tasked with notching a shutdown inning. He did just that in dominating fashion, needing all of 10 pitches to retire three consecutive batters.
Looking to preserve their one-run lead in the ninth, the duo of Adam Kolarek and Kenta Maeda combined for a clean inning of work to solidify the Dodgers’ win. The latter recorded the final two outs, working around a walk to net his second save of the season.
As he becomes more accustomed to his relief role, Maeda believes it was vital for him to pitch in a high-leverage opportunity against the Mets, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“More important was getting to pitch in a pressure situation,” Maeda said. “Pitching in the ninth is different, but this was big for me.”
Maeda spent nearly the entirety of the 2019 season as a member of the starting rotation before being converted to a relief role at the turn of the calendar to September.
In four appearances this month, he has yielded three runs and five hits with 12 strikeouts over 9.2 innings pitched — good for an excellent 2.79 ERA and 0.72 WHIP.
As was the case in previous years, the 31-year-old is expected to be a significant contributor out of the Dodgers bullpen during the postseason. He has embraced being relied upon despite his preference to continue starting.