Dodgers show grit, outlast Mariners to open series, 6-3

Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Martinez comes through in the clutch and bullpen dominates in late innings

After a disappointing series loss to the Padres, the Dodgers bounced back in a big way in Seattle on Friday. Bobby Miller was dominant early and just good enough overall to keep the Dodgers ahead for the rest of the game.

The Dodgers top arm in the starting rotation is Bobby Miller as of now, and he showed exactly why early in this one. Miller had seven strikeouts over 5 ⅔ innings and picked up his 10th win of the year. Although his last inning was rough and the outing did not end the way the Dodgers and Miller intended, the ability to push through some adversity and experience a playoff atmosphere is something that everyone loves to see. Miller will be in high leverage situations in October and I am glad the coaching staff let him ride it out a bit.

It took a while for the Dodger offense to put some runs on the board, but much like the rest of the year, when it rains it pours. Miguel Rojas hit a two-run home run to put the Dodgers ahead in the fifth inning and in the sixth, a Max Muncy triple and J.D. Martinez RBI single brought in two more runs. 

The Mariners had a mini rally of their own in the sixth to knock Bobby Miller out of the game and cut the deficit to one, but the Dodgers responded again. In the eighth and ninth innings respectively, J.D. Martinez laced another RBI single to score Freddie Freeman and then James Outman added a solo shot to center to give the Dodgers even more cushion at 6-3.

I have to give a ton of credit to the bullpen yet again as Caleb Ferguson, Brusdar Graterol, Ryan Brasier and Evan Phillips all came into high leverage situations and successfully navigated them. This bullpen has been absolutely elite as of late and it will be useful to push that momentum into October. 

The Dodgers are now 89-57, 13 ½  games up in the National League West, and their magic number is down to only 2.

Here are my three takeaways:

The Bullpen Has Excelled   

I remember early in the year I wrote about the Dodgers having the worst ERA since their move to Los Angeles. Since the All-Star break, the Dodgers have been one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. It has been a remarkable turnaround for a team that has not added much to that staff. Ryan Brasier has a 0.36 ERA, Brusdar Graterol has a 0.40 ERA, and Evan Phillips has a 2.21 ERA since the break. The starting pitching remains an issue, but when they turn it over to the bullpen, they should expect outs. 

Bobby Miller Will Start Game 1 or 2 in October  

Dave Roberts said this earlier Friday afternoon and it means two things. First, the organization recognizes what kind of talent that Bobby Miller is. Second, it shows that Miller has the arsenal to succeed in the most important games. 

For a kid that has carved himself into one of the best young arms in the league, this season has been a massive success regardless of the roller coaster ride he has been on. I have faith in Miller to show his talents on the biggest stages, and this will only help him develop down the line too.

J.D. Martinez Proving To Be A Great Asset  

Martinez won’t jump out at you with amazing athleticism or blazing speed, but he is such a professional hitter. Martinez went 2-4 with two RBI in tough spots in this one and showed why having such a proven, veteran hitter in the middle of the lineup is so crucial. Even after battling injuries for a good portion of the second half of the year, J.D. has been much better than expectations when he was signed. I look forward to seeing him in the playoffs as well, with a solidified track record over the years with multiple teams.

The Dodgers will finally send Clayton Kershaw to the mound to face Bryce Miller for the Mariners. First pitch is set for 6:40 PM PST Saturday.