Walker's start unravels in fateful first inning

D-backs pitcher allows four runs in opening frame

Walker's start unravels in fateful first inning

LOS ANGELES -- D-backs right-hander Taijuan Walker didn't blame nerves as the diagnosis for his rough introduction to postseason play Friday night, not even after a four-run, nine-batter, 48-pitch first inning that contributed to the D-backs' 9-5 loss in Game 1 of the best-of-five National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile.

Walker said Dodgers hitters were the problem.

Game Date Results Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 LAD 9, ARI 5 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 7 LAD 8, ARI 5 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 9 LAD 3, ARI 1 Watch

"They just had the better game plan," Walker said. "I made some good pitches, but they just had better at-bats."

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The at-bat that was best was Justin Turner's three-run homer. It came after a single by Chris Taylor, who started 0-2 and worked the at-bat to seven pitches, and then a walk to Corey Seager.

Walker also had Turner 0-2, then watched the veteran hitter pass on a cutter outside and a splitter that dove out of the zone. But on a 2-2, 93 mph fastball, Turner went deep, and the D-backs were in suddenly in a 3-0 hole.

"It was a fastball down and in that I just didn't get in enough," Walker said. "He's been a really good hitter all year. And in those situations, you can't make mistakes like that. I made a mistake."

Two batters later, Yasiel Puig's RBI double made it 4-0. Walker would strike out three of the next four hitters, but by then his pitch count was on the rise and his night was nearing an end.

"They put some good at-bats together, the first three guys, laid off some pitches down, ended up getting some pitches up in the zone and we were where we were," D-backs catcher Jeff Mathis said. "He wasn't rattled to start the game. He was excited. It just didn't go his way, the first three guys for sure."

Walker became the Game 1 starter after D-backs manager Torey Lovullo needed to use lefty Robbie Ray for 2 1/3 innings in the 11-8 Wild Card Game on Wednesday. But Walker, who went 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 28 regular-season starts, went 2-0 with a 3.24 against the Dodgers in three starts -- and was 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA at Dodger Stadium.

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"No regrets whatsoever," Lovullo said. "He was a choice. A clear-cut choice. We held him back off the Wild Card roster for the potential of this happening. He just never got into a rhythm. You've got to give the Dodgers credit. They hit a couple mistakes, and unfortunately he never got grounded."

Walker's next postseason appearance might not be a start, especially if it's in this series. The first inning may have been long, but the outing was short enough that he may be available out of the bullpen moving forward.

"I threw a lot of pitches -- 48 pitches in a high-leverage situation like that, it could get dangerous," Walker said. "But now I'm ready for whenever I need to pitch, starting again or out of the bullpen."

Thomas Harding has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002..

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.