Dodgers 8 Nationals 4: Hatcher-Proof Offense

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Jul 19, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (29) throws against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 19, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (29) throws against the Washington Nationals during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Dodgers took game one against Washington despite getting some bad news before the game.

Today’s pre-game news blast was utterly depressing. Joc Pederson was activated off the DL, which was the lone bit of good news from before the game. Hyun-jin Ryu was placed back on the DL with elbow tendonitis, Clayton Kershaw was shut down from his rehab after experiencing back pain and Corey Seager was kept out of the lineup after a stomach virus.

Fortunately, the Dodgers got off to the best start possible, as Chase Utley hit the third pitch of Reynaldo Lopez‘s career into the right field bleachers for a leadoff home run. A single, double and single later, the Dodgers were up 3-0 before Scott Kazmir even threw a pitch.

Kazmir had one of those outings where you feel like he’s finally righting the ship. He’s had a few of those, so don’t be surprised if he allows seven runs in the first inning in his next start. However, Kazmir was absolutely dealing today. He allowed two baserunners in the first four innings and shut down the Nationals until the fifth. He got a strikeout to lead off the inning, but he landed weirdly has he fielded a grounder and barely got the ball to first for the second out. He got the out, but he was clearly in pain. He decided to carry on without tossing any warmup pitches, and he allowed a predictable solo homer to Jose Lobaton.

The Dodgers offense came to life off Lopez, who pitched half-decently despite allowing 10 hits and six runs in 4.2 innings. You saw the potential that Lopez has, with a high-velo fastball and some quality breaking pitches. When the Dodgers made contact they hit him pretty hard, but he struck out nine batters and definitely showed glimpses.

They began the fifth with a 4-0 lead, and started the inning with a walk and a single. Adrian Gonzalez singled in a run, but the next two batters struck out. Yasiel Puig, who drew some bad press over the weekend after failing to come up with key hits, put together a great at bat and shot a single to drive in another run. In terms of the outcome of the game, it probably wasn’t a huge deal. But Puig came through and had a big hit on a day where people were talking about him being traded. It was definitely a huge relief to see, and hopefully it buys him some time before talking heads get frustrated with him for not coming up with a big hit.

Despite the injury, Kazmir shoved through seven and only allowed the homer to Lobaton. He allowed four hits and struck out eight while not issuing a walk, so that was good to see on the day the Dodgers possibly lost their ace for a longer time.

The Dodgers had a six-run lead, and that quickly became a three run lead after Chris Hatcher entered the game. Hatcher allowed a walk, a single and a wild pitch before Trea Turner hit a triple to score two runs. Hatcher was pulled for Adam Liberatore, who allowed Turner to score but got out of the inning with the lead in tact. Yasmani Grandal made it a non-save situation with a solo homer, but Kenley Jansen still got the final three outs.

Hatcher was used in the exact position he should be used in. It was a blowout and pretty low-leverage, so while it made the game closer than it had to be, it’s better for him to do this in a six-run ballgame than in a one-run game. Hatcher has shown the ability to dominate (last year after his final DL stint), but he’s been pretty terrible this season. A ghost DL could do him a load of good, but he’s the last person Dodger fans want to see out of the pen right now.

For all the awfulness, the Dodgers move to 53-42 and with the Red Sox win over San Francisco, the Dodgers move to 4.5 games back in the division. Kazmir is fine, as he reportedly had cramps and got that cleared up in the game. Having Kershaw back would be nice, but if this team can stay in the race and get healthy, they’ll be a team no one wants to play.

Next: Trade Target Will Smith?

The Dodgers look for a series win tomorrow. Bud Norris will start tomorrow in Ryu’s place. Norris was slated to throw Thursday, but Julio Urias will be brought back for that start. Lord knows what the Dodgers are doing with Urias, but plans sorta go out the window when every other pitcher is hurt.

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