The Dodgers dropped game one of the Freeway Series as their comeback fell short.
The Dodgers had a chance to get their offense going at home against Matt Shoemaker, who entered the game with a 9.12 ERA and a 6.20 FIP. They went quietly in the first, but after two quick outs in the second, Joc Pederson and Trayce Thompson each drew walks, and back-to-back singles by Carl Crawford and Kenta Maeda gave the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead.
However, Maeda had his shortest outing as a Dodger, as he was lifted in the bottom of the fourth inning for a pinch hitter. All of his troubles came in the third, which started off with a Carlos Perez double to the left-center gap. Gregorio Petit drove him in with a single, and after a Kole Calhoun walk and Yunel Escobar single, #FutureDodger Mike Trout singled in two. Albert Pujols followed that up with an RBI single, but Maeda got a double play to end the threat.
Maeda allowed a walk in the fourth, but struck out the side. He was already at 73 pitches through four, which was hopefully the main reason the Dodgers pulled him so early (please be healthy).
One Dodger that isn’t healthy is Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzo has been slumping hard, and he left the game after his fifth-inning strikeout with lower back tightness. Gonzo is one of the more irreplaceable players on the Dodgers as the second-best first baseman in the organization is only 20 and hitting .179 in AA (not that I’m worried about Cody Bellinger at all based on 15 AA games, but there’s no chance he can be an injury replacement right now). Hopefully, Gonzo’s back just flared up and he’ll be back soon.
In positive news, Chris Hatcher tossed two scoreless innings after Maeda was pulled. Another guy I think can be a difference-maker, like we saw towards the end of last season. I definitely think he should be kept away from high-leverage situations until he gets back in rhythm, but if he can find his location, he could be a boost to the pen.
After Hatcher’s two solid innings, Pedro Baez came in and made a mess of things. He gave up back to back singles to lead off the seventh, and then walked Trout to load the bases after getting ahead 0-2. Pujols knocked a bases loaded single to center to drive in two, and a sac fly gave the Angels a 7-3 lead.
Thompson tried to put the team on his back, as he belted a solo home run in the fourth and a two-run shot in the eighth to cut the deficit to one. I’ve always loved Crawford as a player (mainly from his Tampa Bay days) and I feel like he gets way more flack than he deserves from Dodger fans, but at this point it’s impossible to make a case for Crawford remaining a starter while Thompson occupies the bench. If anything, play the upside and see what Thompson could do with consistent playing time. Thompson’s looking fine at the plate (despite nearly having as high a K% as Pederson did last season). Thompson should be, at worst, a solid defender and the athleticism is very clear, so IMO, he should be the everyday starter in left until he does something to lose the job (even when Andre Ethier returns). Crawford isn’t the worst option in the world as a lefty bat off the bench or a pinch runner, so hopefully Dave Roberts ignores the contracts and plays the hot hand.
The Dodgers pitching had two nightmarish innings and that’s what cost them the game. The offense showed some life (mainly Thompson, but still), and they made it interesting towards the end. The comeback fell short, but at least they didn’t roll over. Still, another home loss to a bad Angels squad (that are now on a four-game winning streak) isn’t a good look.