The Dodgers jumped all over a rookie pitcher to take the series in St. Louis.
The Dodgers seem to get dominated by rookie pitchers. There aren’t stats to back that up, but it just seems like when a pitcher makes his first career start against the Dodgers, they’re going to flirt with a no-hitter.
On Wednesday, the Dodgers faced Reynaldo Lopez, who made his first career start for the Nationals. Chase Utley led off the game with a dinger and the Dodgers scored four runs in the first two innings.
Today, Mike Mayers made his major league debut for the Cardinals. Utley greeted him with only a single. Corey Seager followed that up with a BABIP-friendly infield single, and Justin Turner walked to load the bases. Adrian Gonzalez, for probably the first time this season, squared up a middle-middle pitch and drove it out to center for a grand slam. This did not kill the Dodgers’ rally, as Howie Kendrick knocked a hustle double (16-game hitting streak). After getting two outs, Joc Pederson walked, stole second, and was driven in by a Scott Kazmir single.
The Dodgers gave Kazmir a 6-0 lead to work with, and he immediately gave one back in the bottom of the first. He gave up an infield single and a double (with an assist by Howie Kendrick, who did his best Carl Crawford impression in left) to make it 6-1.
The Dodgers responded in the second, as Turner knocked a one-out single. Gonzo followed that up with a single, and Jedd Gyorko tried to take the cutoff throw and nail Turner at third base. Instead, he threw the ball in the camera well to allow Turner to score. Kendrick continued his scorching month with an opposite field dinger to make it 9-1, which knocked Mayers out of the game. It would have been more fun to watch if ESPN didn’t keep cutting to Mayers’ family watching the game (spoiler: they were sad), but dropping nine runs in 1.1 innings was a pleasant sight.
Kazmir was great in his last outing, but not so much tonight. After being spotted a huge lead, he allowed two more runs in the second inning. Yadier Molina crushed a ball to the gap for a double, and Tommy Pham followed that up with a homer. It took Kazmir 56 pitches to complete two innings, so while he fared better than Mayers, he looked bad as well early on.
Seth Maness came in to relieve Mayers and really saved the Cardinals’ bacon, as he went 3.2 innings and scattered three hits. The Cardinals don’t have the luxury of the off days that the Dodgers have coming up, so him getting them to the sixth was huge after a long, reliever-filled series.
Kazmir also settled down, as he gave up two singles after Pham’s homer. He got through five with 96 pitches so while it wasn’t pretty or efficient, he ate a few innings and kept the Dodgers from having to strain their bullpen in a six-run ballgame. The Dodgers only used two relievers yesterday and have a day off tomorrow, so hopefully this helps the bullpen stay fresh as they get into the dog days of the season.
Most of the rest of the game was mostly uneventful, but it wouldn’t be a Dodger game if they didn’t leave the bases loaded (twice in the same inning!). The main downer of the game came in the seventh, which started by Adam Liberatore getting a very generous strike three call on a full count. After a very “ball don’t lie” type of infield single, Liberatore walked two batters to load the bases before getting pulled for Joe Blanton. Blanton allowed a sac fly and a double down the line to make it a 9-6 game and end Liberatore’s 28-outing scoreless streak. Liberatore hadn’t allowed an earned run since May 18 against the Angels, but got charged with three in this one, ballooning his ERA from .55 to 1.35.
The Dodgers end their nine-game road trip, losing the series they should have won (in AZ) and winning the two tougher series (WASH and STL). The win combined with a Giants loss earlier today puts the Dodgers at three back in the West, the closest they’ve been since June 10th. At 56-44, the Dodgers have the same record through 100 games as they did last year and are a game better than they were in 2014. I probably sound like a broken record with that, but people need to realize that the nerdz didn’t ruin the team.
The Dodgers have an off day tomorrow before welcoming Tampa Bay to Dodger Stadium. Chris Archer will start on Tuesday, probably for the Rays but maybe for the Dodgers.