Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Walker Buehler took the mound Sunday evening at Oracle Park with a reputation of being a big-game pitcher, having enjoyed plenty of success this season against the San Francisco Giants and an undefeated record against them in 12 career games (10 starts).
However, what unfolded was Buehler’s worst start of the season. He surrendered a solo home run to Brandon Belt in the first inning, three more runs in the second, and two more in the third. Buehler hit for himself but was removed in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“Not a whole lot was very good. Probably the worst I’ve thrown in a long time,” he said after suffering a first career loss to the Giants. “I’ll get back to the drawing board and improve.”
Buehler’s three innings of work marked his shortest start of the season and the six earned runs also were the most he’s allowed in any outing.
“They got hits, they hit balls hard, they hit balls soft, I didn’t get ahead in the count,” Buehler said. “That’s kind of been one of the big things this year, is getting ahead, and I didn’t do that.”
The loss dropped the Dodgers one game back of the Giants for first place in the National League West and also cost them the season series. That could prove particularly key if the Dodgers and Giants need to play a Game 163 to decide a division winner, which now would be held at Oracle Park.
“We have a month left. This was a big game, Sunday Night game tied in the division and all that, but what it boils down to is playing a better month of baseball than they do,” Buehler said. “That’s our goal and my goal. I think that’s what we need to do.”
Did Buehler tip pitches?
Considering Buehler was facing the Giants for a sixth time this season, it’s reasonable to believe the familiarity worked against him. Some believed tipping pitches also could have been to blame, though Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t believe that to be the case.
“I think they took some good at-bats. When it was soft, they stayed back. When it was hard, they got the head to it,” Roberts said. “We’ll dig in, but I just think they had a good offensive day.”
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