By Jon Weisman
He’s the man, the man with the golden pitch.
Taking a promising start to the next level, Mike Bolsinger — designated for assignment by Arizona after the 2014 season — retired 23 batters in a row after allowing a leadoff single, facing the minimum 24 hitters over eight innings in a 2-1 Dodger victory.
Bolsinger struck out a career-high eight and got 10 outs via the ground ball (including a first-inning double play and a diving stop off the mound in the eighth), using only 92 pitches. He’s the first Dodger to complete eight innings this year, and his Game Score of 88 is 10 higher than the previous top Dodger performance of the year, by Zack Greinke on May 5.
“I was just locating on the offspeed pitches, getting ahead of batters, and it was really working for me,” Bolsinger said on the field after the game. “Getting ahead of guys — that’s been the most important thing.”
The 27-year-old righty, acquired for cash considerations six months and one day ago, lowered his ERA to 0.71 in 25 1/3 innings this year, with 22 strikeouts and a 0.79 WHIP. A year ago, he had a 5.50 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 52 1/3 innings for Arizona.
“People have been asking me (what the difference is this year),” Bolsinger told reporters in the clubhouse. “I don’t know, something just clicked in my head. People ask me how (I) feel, and it’s just, I’m locked in. That’s the best way to describe it — just locked in.”
Said catcher A.J. Ellis: “He was executing all night long. He had a great mix going. Just really keeping them off-balance by using different sequences, different ways of attacking guys. He just does a really nice job of keeping (his curveball) around the strike zone. It’s just enough of a pitch that teases you, and just when you’re ready to hit one that you think is a strike, it breaks out of the zone, and just when you think one is gonna be a ball, it drops in.”
“To be honest with you, this was a guy we saw last year with Arizona who had a tough go of it,” Ellis said. “He came over, and just seeing the way he went about his business … he’s got a great demeanor, great mound presence, never gets too up, never gets too down. He’s a really fun guy to catch.”
Joc Pederson’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the first (his 12th of the season and technically, his second game-winning homer in a row) and Justin Turner’s RBI double in the sixth accounted for the Dodger runs. Kenley Jansen extended his hitless streak to 13 batters in picking up the save, ending the game in 131 minutes (the shortest nine-inning Dodger game since August 23, 2013).
This was the Dodgers’ first one-hitter since June 30, when Dan Haren, Brian Wilson and Jansen combined to lift the Dodgers into first place. And, it’s the first Dodger one-hitter in less than 100 pitches since Hiroki Kuroda’s complete-game, 91-pitch effort on July 7, 2008.
Previously on Dodger Insider: “Opponents in high school, Mike Bolsinger and Clayton Kershaw are now teammates”