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D-backs’ Torey Lovullo: ‘No regrets whatsoever’ in starting Taijuan Walker

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, left, and Los Angeles Dodgers' Justin Turner watch Turner's three-run home run 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)

LOS ANGELES — The last thing Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo wanted following a short start from his ace in the National League Wild Card Game was to have to use another quick hook.

That’s exactly what he had to do.

Taijuan Walker, who got the start because Lovullo was forced to use presumed starter Robbie Ray in a win over Colorado Wednesday night, lasted all of one inning in a 9-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series Friday night.

L.A. center fielder Chris Taylor led off the game with a single, which was followed by a Corey Seager walk. Third baseman Justin Turner then clubbed a 2-2 fastball from Walker over the fence in left field to give the home team a 3-0 lead before many Dodger fans had found their seats.

The damage wasn’t done. Cody Bellinger singled, then scored on an RBI-double by Yasiel Puig to make it 4-0. Walker labored through the rest of the frame, eventually striking out the side. But Lovullo exercised the quick hook, going to right-hander Zack Godley in the second inning.

Lovullo surprised some by going with Walker over Godley or left-hander Patrick Corbin in Game 1.

“No regrets, whatsoever,” Lovullo said. “He was the choice — the clear-cut choice. We held him back off the Wild Card roster for the potential of this happening. He just never got in a rhythm.

“You’ve got to give the Dodgers some credit, they hit a couple mistakes and unfortunately he never got grounded.”

Walker threw 48 pitches in the inning — 38 before he recorded his first out. It was the shortest postseason start in D-backs’ history, two innings shorter than three-inning stints turned in by Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the 2011 NLDS against Milwaukee and two three-inning starts by Albie Lopez in the 2001 postseason.

Interestingly enough, Arizona won two of those three short starts. That wouldn’t be the case Friday, mostly because giving three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw that kind of cushion isn’t the recipe for success.

Kershaw wasn’t his normal dominant self, but again, he didn’t need to be. The lefty gave up four home runs — all solo shots — but lasted 6.1 innings while striking out four and walking three. It the first home postseason win of his career.


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