Home Sports Walker Buehler shows some rust but overcomes it in his return to the Dodgers

Walker Buehler shows some rust but overcomes it in his return to the Dodgers

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Los Angeles, CA, Monday, May 6, 2024 – Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler throws a pitch.

It took seven pitches for Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler to exceed the expectations of manager Dave Roberts, who prefaced Buehler’s first major league start in 23 months Monday night by saying: “I don’t expect to see 96 -97 mph.” that he had before (Tommy John) surgery.”

After completing his warm-up pitches with Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” blasting over Dodger Stadium’s public address system, Buehler sprang into action with his signature high kick and fired his first pitch, a 96-pound fastball. mph, by Miami’s leadoff hitter, Jazz Chisholm Jr., for the first strike.

Buehler hit 97 mph on his seventh pitch of the game, a fastball that Chisholm fouled, and for good measure, Buehler hit 97.6 mph on his eighth pitch, which was also a foul on Chisholm.

Read more: ‘Game Ownership’: Former Dodgers ace Walker Buehler set to return

The rest of his return after a nearly two-year absence was a bit of a mixed bag, with Buehler being tagged for three runs on five hits in the first two innings before shutting out the Marlins in the third and fourth, but there was plenty of Buehler during a 6-3 victory on the Marlins to cheer on the Dodgers.

Buehler needed 49 pitches to complete the first two innings, in which he allowed RBI singles to Bryan De La Cruz and Jesús Sánchez in the first and Nick Gordon’s solo home run, which right fielder Andy Pages gloved before it bounced. on the wall, in the second.

Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler shows his frustration early against the Miami Marlins on Monday.

Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler shows his frustration early against the Miami Marlins on Monday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

But he struck out two of four batters in a scoreless third, Jake Burger looking at a 92 mph sinker and Josh Bell swinging at a 92 mph sliced ​​fastball, and knocked down Gordon with an 80 mph curveball and got Nick Fortes turned into a double play in a scoreless fourth inning, needing 28 pitches to complete his final two innings.

That ended a four-inning, 77-pitch start in which Buehler allowed three runs on six hits, struck out four and walked none before giving up to left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who allowed one hit and struck out two in three reliefs. without annotations. tickets to win.

Blake Treinen, pitching for the second time in two days after being activated on Sunday, retired in order with a strikeout in the eighth, and left-hander Alex Vesia retired in order in the ninth for the save.

The first four hits of the game were home runs for the Dodgers, who won for the 12th time in 14 games and outscored their opponents 89-28 and hit 25 home runs during that stretch.

Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani celebrates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning on Monday.

Shohei Ohtani followed Mookie Betts’ walk in the bottom of the first with a two-run shot that traveled 441 feet to center field, his major league-leading 11th home run of the season, and Freddie Freeman followed with a solo shot to center to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.

Troubled center fielder James Outman, who entered with a .165 average, a .559 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and was mired in a 3-for-28 slump, hit a two-run homer that traveled 437 feet to center. -right. for a 5-3 lead in the second, and a solo shot by Teoscar Hernández to left field made it 6-3 in the third.

Ohtani, who was selected the National League player of the week last Monday, also singled in the fourth inning, stole two bases and is batting .389 (21 for 54) with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in his last 13 games.

Buehler had not pitched in a major league game since June 10, 2022, when he felt his elbow “binge a little bit” in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. He pitched with discomfort in the fourth inning but was unable to start the fifth.

An MRI test confirmed another ulnar collateral ligament tear, and Buehler, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015, the year the Dodgers drafted him in the first round out of Vanderbilt, underwent his second surgery. ligament replacement.

Thus began a nearly two-year routine that included a year of physical rehabilitation, a failed comeback attempt last September, a delayed start to spring training, a long pitching progression and a six-out rehab period in the leagues. minors that culminated with Buehler being promoted to the Dodgers. Stadium mound on Monday night.

“It gets monotonous, you know, the same boring routine, not competing and pitching in games that don’t really matter,” Roberts said before the game. “For a veteran, it is difficult and mentally taxing.

“But for Walker to stay focused on preparing and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and now that we’re here… I’m really proud of him for navigating the emotions. It is difficult, especially to go through the second one.”

Read more: Plaschke: Shohei Ohtani makes the Dodgers dream of a different October

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This story originally appeared on Los Angeles Times.

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