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Walker Buehler aims for another gem when Dodgers meet Tigers

Sportsnaut
Apr 25, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler (21) throws to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first inning at Chase Field.Mlb Los Angeles Dodgers At Arizona Diamondbacks
Credit: Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Walker Buehler finally got a chance to finish what he started in his most recent outing.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ right-hander (2-1, 2.55 ERA) will look for another lengthy and productive appearance when he faces the visiting Detroit Tigers in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday.

Buehler threw his first career shutout Monday in a 4-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He gave up only three hits, walked none and struck out 10.

“The guys I grew up watching did that,” Buehler said. “That was what it meant to be good.”

Buehler was far better than good in notching his third career complete game and his first since Aug. 3, 2019. He became the first Dodgers pitcher to throw a shutout since Hyun Jin Ryu on May 7, 2019.

Buehler asked manager Dave Roberts to leave him in after the eighth inning was completed.

“You get through eight and you’ve never done that, I think it’s kind of hard to not have that emotion,” Buehler said.

Roberts complied and was relieved that Buehler cruised through the ninth.

“I trusted him,” Roberts said. “I believed him. He has an extra day before his next start, so everything lined up, made sense. He deserved it, he earned it, and it was fun to watch him.”

Roberts has a notoriously quick hook, even removing Clayton Kershaw after seven perfect innings earlier this season. Buehler got through his shutout in 108 pitches.

“You’ve seen how protective we are here, and I think that’s a good thing and the smart thing,” Buehler said. “But I think I would have been really upset (to come out), just because I haven’t done this before.”

Something he hasn’t done entering Sunday’s contest is face the Tigers during his career. Buehler will oppose Eduardo Rodriguez, who is seeking his first victory as a Tiger after playing for the Boston Red Sox the previous six seasons.

Rodriguez (0-1, 5.03) — signed to a five-year, $77 million free-agent contract — is glad April is in the rear-view mirror.

Rodriguez has made four starts this season, most recently when he allowed three runs on four hits in six innings at Minnesota on Tuesday. The left-hander has two regular-season starts against the Dodgers, going 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings.

The teams have split the first two games of the series. Detroit snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-1 win Saturday night.

The Tigers entered the season with hopes of contending for a playoff berth, but injuries to the starting staff and an anemic offense have tempered expectations.

“We’ve got a lot of games and we’ve got a lot to do,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “But if you start feeling helpless after 19 games, you’ve got to find a new job.”

The Tigers started last season 9-24 in Hinch’s first season at the team’s helm. They have a better roster this season, but several regulars have slumped, most notably Jeimer Candelario (.159), Spencer Torkelson (.190) and Jonathan Schoop (.145). They scored only 10 runs during their six-game slide.

Candelario had two hits and scored two runs Saturday as the team raised its record to 7-13.

“If you’ve been around our team, you know exactly what we need to do better in order to play more winning baseball,” Hinch said of the team’s offensive woes.

–Field Level Media