Dodgers 10 Rays 5: A Win Streak!
By Alex Campos
Coming off a terrible homestand last week, the Dodgers took care of business to start their road trip in Tampa.
The Dodgers bounced back with a nice outing today in Tampa. Scott Kazmir was weirdly good and bad (I’ll get into that), the Dodgers have a very unlikely setup man and this seems like the first time this season that the Dodgers’ offense has gotten the job done with the longball and by hitting with runners in scoring position.
First, Kazmir’s weird outing. This was arguably the best his stuff has looked all season. His velocity was good, location was good (for the most part), and he looked like the Kazmir I was expecting the Dodgers to get. However, when he did make a mistake, it got hit very hard. He gave up an RBI double to Evan Longoria in the first, a moonshot of a homer to Curt Casali and another homer to Steve Pearce. This wasn’t a case of good pitches being hit, these were all awful pitches. However, he was good for the most part and nearly got out of the seventh inning, but gave up an infield single and was pulled for Joe Blanton.
This brings me to my second point. When the Dodgers signed Blanton in the offseason, my first reaction was very confusing. I did some research rather than just writing the “Dodgers sign Joe Blanton for some reason” post I had in my mind, and to my surprise he was dominant last season out of the bullpen. Still confused, but sort of cautiously excited about him in the bullpen. Little did I know he would be the second best bullpen arm behind Kenley Jansen? I remember you commenters who wanted Friedman fired for even considering Blanton. He got four outs in this game (finished off the seventh for Kazmir, threw a perfect eighth) and only needed 10 pitches to do so. I’m probably as big a Chris Hatcher fan as you’ll find and I like Pedro Baez a lot, but Blanton is pretty clearly the best eighth inning option in the Dodgers bullpen and that’s not as depressing a sentence as I really thought it would be.
As we saw on Sunday, no amount of good pitching can overcome a terrible offense. Unfortunately, Clayton Kershaw wasn’t in today’s lineup, so the Dodgers had to turn elsewhere for offense. Howie Kendrick, who came into the game with eight hits in 58 plate appearances, but he singled in the second. Trayce Thompson followed that up with a home run that literally did not land. Two batters later, Joc Pederson hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season to right center (off a lefty! #NotAPlatoon).
The Dodgers added four in the fifth inning after loading the bases, and Kendrick doubled to left to score a pair. Thompson chopped a single through a shifted infield for the other two runs, and the Dodgers had a reasonably safe 7-4 lead. Yasiel Puig added some insurance with a booming three-run shot to left in the ninth. J.P. Howell got to throw the ninth with a six run lead, but after two quick outs he loaded the bases and hit a batter to bring home a run. Kenley Jansen came in for the final out and a nice one-out save
Overall, this one game brought me more joy than all of last week. The Dodgers scored as many runs today as they did from last Tuesday-Sunday. Kendrick finally looked like Kendrick, going 4-5 and hitting the ball hard. Adrian Gonzalez had a couple hits including a weakly hit shift-buster to left. The Dodgers are back over .500 and they looked pretty good doing it.
The two teams face off again tomorrow, with Drew Smyly going up against Alex Wood.