LOS ANGELES — It still seems inevitable.
Kenta Maeda’s limitations as a starter, his dominance over right-handed hitters and the Dodgers’ long list of options for a fourth starter foretell another October spent in the bullpen for the Japanese right-hander.
“Anything is possible,” Dodgers manger Dave Roberts said on the topic before Saturday’s game. “We still have a lot of baseball to play.”
Not that much. But Maeda did his best to unseal his fate Saturday night, holding the Arizona Diamondbacks scoreless on three hits in seven innings of a 4-0 Dodgers victory.
The performance reversed a two-month slide by Maeda. In his 12 appearances before Saturday (11 starts), he was 0-6 with a 5.26 ERA, bottoming out last week when he lasted just 2 2/3 innings against the San Diego Padres.
Against the Diamondbacks, Maeda retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up back-to-back singles to start the fourth inning. A caught-stealing erased one runner. A fly out and strikeout stranded the other at third base.
That was the only peril the Diamondbacks managed to create for Maeda. They had just one more hit against the Dodgers starter and didn’t get another runner past first base in the game.
Saturday was the aggressive, efficient version of Maeda that the Dodgers would like to see more often. Maeda threw 93 pitches in his seven innings, 63 for strikes, and 11 or fewer to retire the side in four of those innings. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter, securing his first win since May 31.
The Dodgers’ offense backed Maeda with four early runs against Diamondbacks starter Alex Young.
Max Muncy started it with a 429-foot solo home run in the second inning. In the third, Russell Martin doubled and scored on Kristopher Negron’s two-out RBI single (after Justin Turner was intentionally walked).
In the fourth, the Dodgers parlayed a pair of walks, an RBI single by Martin and a successful squeeze bunt by Maeda into two runs and a 4-0 lead.
Like Friday’s loss, however, the Dodgers’ offense faded with the sun. They had just one hit after the fourth inning against Diamondbacks relievers.