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Sedona Red Recap: D-backs fall behind early, drop Game 1 of NLDS to Dodgers

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, front, and Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig watch Puig's RBI double during the first inning of Game 1 of a baseball National League Division Series in Los Angeles, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The margin of error playing against a 104-win Los Angeles Dodgers team starting Clayton Kershaw at home is tiny.

So, when your starting pitcher doesn’t get his first out until the sixth hitter of the game and gives up four runs in a first inning in which he threw 48 pitches, you’ve made that tiny margin of error even smaller.

That’s what happened for Taijuan Walker and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers rode that 4-0 lead and momentum to hand the D-backs a 9-5 loss in Game 1 of the National League Division Series Friday.

The logic behind a Walker selection for Game 1 was his highest earned run total given up in one start this season was five. He wasn’t going to pitch his team out of a game.

Unfortunately for the D-backs, that’s possible to do with less than five runs when you are trying to hit off Kershaw.

He wasn’t flawless, though, making Walker’s poor first inning sting even more. Kershaw went 6.1 innings, allowing four runs (all earned) on five hits, striking out seven and walking three.

After Justin Turner’s three-run home run and Yasiel Puig’s double off Walker in the first created that 4-0 lead, Walker was pulled for Zack Godley in the second.

In the top of the third, A.J. Pollock gave the D-backs a quick punch of life and a reminder the game was far from over when he hit a solo homer.

That aforementioned margin of error, however, wouldn’t allow for any more mistakes, so when Godley gave up three more runs in the fourth inning to make it 7-1, the game was all but over.

The fact shined through, as despite three more solo home runs — J.D. Martinez in the sixth, Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis in the seventh — a three-run deficit was too much to overcome.

The Dodgers would add two insurance runs in the eighth via a Corey Seager triple and a Turner single to make it 9-4. Turner finished the game with five RBI.

A late rally attempt by the D-backs in the ninth off Kelly Jansen produced one run from a throwing error by Seager to give the game its final score of 9-5.

STAT OF THE GAME

1: Walker pitching only one inning made it the shortest postseason outing for a starter in franchise history.

NOTED

— Lovullo surprised many with his lineup decisions for Game 1, arguably the biggest of which was the omission of Chris Iannetta at catcher. Iannetta was one of the few players on the team with a good record hitting off Kershaw, and on the season, he hit .300 in 80 at-bats against left-handers. Mathis started in his place.

– Another one of those decisions was All-Star third baseman Jake Lamb being replaced by Adam Rosales in the lineup. Lamb was woeful against lefties this year, hitting .144, and had not faced Kershaw this season. Lovullo said before the game that the lack of matchup experience did play into the decision.

– Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke were announced as the starters of Games 2 and 3, respectively.

– The team announced their roster for the NLDS and shortstop Chris Owings was not on it. Lovullo described him as “close, but not perfect.”

– Another note on that roster was Christian Walker making the squad. Walker was a monster in the minors this year for Triple-A Reno, hitting .309 with 32 HR and 114 RBI. He pinch-hit for Godley in the seventh inning, hitting a single to right field.

UP NEXT

Ray gets the nod for the D-backs in Game 2 of the NLDS against Rich Hill and the Dodgers Saturday. First pitch time is 6:08 p.m., with pregame coverage starting 40 minutes prior on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Ray’s success against the Dodgers this season has been well-documented. In five starts this season, Ray is 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA. Over those 31.2 innings, Ray has struck out 53 Dodgers, good for 15.1 strikeouts per nine innings, three full punch-outs ahead of his season average.

Hill, on the other hand, is the opposite. In four starts, he went 0-3 with a 5.03 ERA against Arizona, allowing 11 earned runs over 19.2 innings.


Tune in to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, your exclusive home for Arizona Diamondbacks playoff baseball.

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