LOS ANGELES — If I told you just one month ago that Austin Barnes and Lance Lynn would lead the Dodgers to their 11th straight win in late August, you probably would’ve thought I was out of my mind. On Thursday night, the two came up clutch to give the Dodgers a heroic victory in a playoff atmosphere.
Let’s start with Lance Lynn, who was once again dominant in his seven innings. In what was a pitcher’s duel between two powerhouse arms, Lance Lynn delivered an excellent performance to keep the Dodgers in the game throughout. He went seven innings, giving up just four hits and striking out three, but his best performance of the night came in the sixth inning. Lynn had 1st and 3rd with nobody out and navigated his way out of a huge jam. This is why the Dodgers got a veteran arm that can give this team innings.
The offense was held to just two hits until the 8th inning due to Corbin Burnes’ electric start to match Lance Lynn, but then Austin Barnes came to the plate. There was a question as to whether Dave Roberts would pinch hit for him in such a crucial at-bat, but his decision to leave him in paid off immensely.
Barnes had already had success off of Burnes in the past and had a hit earlier in the game as well, but his next hit would be the biggest of his season. He drilled a hanging breaking ball just over the left field wall to give the Dodgers the lead and the first run of the entire ballgame and sent the dugout and Dodger Stadium into a frenzy. For a guy that has struggled all year, it was such an amazing sight to see him lift the Dodgers to a victory.
Evan Phillips came on to close the game and after getting the first two hitters out, he walked Sal Frelick to bring up Willy Adames as the go-ahead run. He promptly struck out Adames in a thrilling at-bat to give the Dodgers the 1-0 victory in a game that had a playoff feel.
The Dodgers are now 74-46 and a remarkable 10 ½ games up in the National League West due to the Giants having another off day after a loss.
Here are my three takeaways:
The Starting Pitching Staff Has Been Excellent
There were a lot of questions (and still are) about the validity of this staff’s performance throughout the season. There have been guys in and out of the injured list, underperformance from some, and young arms trying to find their way onto a roster. Now, the Dodgers have 3 of the 4 lowest starting pitcher ERA’s in the National League since August 1st. Bobby Miller, Lance Lynn and Julio Urias are all slightly behind Michael Loreznen for the best ERA since the trade deadline in what has turned out to be a remarkable turnaround. The most important stat of all is the fact that Lance Lynn has a 1.44 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 25 innings in a Dodger uniform. This guy has been electric since coming to Los Angeles and will continue to get better as he learns from his outings, much like rookie Bobby Miller.
Austin Barnes Finally Comes Through
If your memory can reach back this far, back in 2017 when the Dodgers made their run to the World Series, Austin Barnes was one of the most clutch hitters on the team and had an excellent year on both sides of the ball. Over the past couple of years, he has regressed, but the team has kept faith in him because of his ability to call games behind the plate and be a great locker room presence. If you want to know how loved he is by his teammates, just look at the smiles on their faces as he rounded the bases…
In 2023, it has been a very rough year for Barnes on both sides of the baseball, but he has continued to push through harsh criticism and failures at the plate to deliver this type of game. I too have been in slumps throughout my baseball career, I know how good it feels to have a game like this, and for Barnes I hope this jumpstarts a refreshed view of the game for him moving forward.
This Team Is Just Built Different
Dodger fans say this every year I know, but this year there is something special to this team. I have been harping on about the fact that this iteration of the Dodgers has been thrown together with no real direction at the beginning of the year. Now, they are one of the closest Dodger teams chemistry wise that I can remember and certainly showing it on the field so far.
There is still a ton of baseball left to be played, but for a team that a lot of people doubted could be a contender this year (myself included), they continue to amaze me each night I get to cover them. Thursday night was an indication that they have what it takes to face a great pitcher and grind out at-bats to come through with a win. That is something that will be needed in the playoffs and come October, I feel like this particular Dodger team will be ready to face any challenges thrown at them as they have all year…
The Dodgers welcome in the upstart Miami Marlins Friday night as Tony Gonsolin takes the mound against reigning Cy Young award winner Sandy Alcantara for the Marlins. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM PST.