The Dodgers hit the ball well and pitched pretty decently, but dropped game one against the Pirates.
The Pirates got to hill in the first inning. “Got to” is being used in jest, as they squared up one ball all inning. Josh Harrison led off with a weak chopper up the middle and Corey Seager double clutched it, allowing Harrison to beat the throw after a review. Starling Marte and Harrison executed an almost-perfect hit-and-run on the most well-hit ball of the inning as he lined a clean single to center, but Chase Utley deked Harrison and got him to backtrack a bit to first. He reached second safely, but the deke kept him from getting to third. It didn’t matter in the end, as Andrew McCutchen grounded one past Justin Turner‘s dive to score Harrison. McCutchen stole second on a close play that Seager failed to get the tag down on. After a strikeout, David Freese reached on a slow grounder infield single to score a second run, and a fielders’ choice gave the Pirates a third run on four ground balls.
On the other hand, the Dodgers were crushing Ivan Nova pitches, but had very little to show for it. They scratched in the second after Joc Pederson had a very nice two-out at bat and doubled to left. Howie Kendrick singled him home as Pederson barely beat out Gregory Polanco‘s throw home.
The Pirates immediately got that run back as McCutchen took Stripling deep. McCutchen, who has been a perennial MVP candidate since like 2010, has been awful this year. He has a .240/.318/.400 triple slash and a 94 wRC+. Not awful for normal people, but for McCutchen to have a .4 fWAR in 100 games into the season is stunning. Of course, he crushed the Dodgers in Pittsburgh, and continued that tonight.
McCutchen’s dinger was the last baserunner the Pirates got off Stripling until the seventh. The first inning was dumb and really hard to blame him for, so even though he gave up four runs, two of the five hits he gave up were infield singles and he definitely kept the Dodgers in the game.
The Dodgers had nine hits in 5.1 innings off Nova, but only had the one run to show for it. Utley ran into an out in the third, Stripling stranded two runners on base in the fourth, and they wasted hits in the fifth and sixth innings. Antonio Bastardo got the final two outs of the sixth to close Nova’s book, and while one run in 5.1 innings looks very solid, the Dodgers offense had plenty of well-hit balls turn into outs at the warning track. The Pirates’ outfield is one of the most athletic in all of baseball (and one of my favorites to watch), and Marte and McCutchen seemed to chase down every ball the Dodgers hit.
Stripling was left on deck in the sixth, so he came out to start the seventh and gave up a leadoff homer to Jordy Mercer. Stripling finished the seventh to help the Dodger bullpen out, but the two home runs and unlucky first inning was too much to overcome.
The offense couldn’t do much else. They had at least one hit in every inning except the eighth, but couldn’t stack hits or get that timely extra base hit. One run on 12 hits won’t happen very often, but when it does it’s an extremely difficult recipe for success.
It’s tough to be too upset about this game, especially because the Giants dropped game one with the Orioles. Another opportunity to tie up the division goes to waste, but it’s not like the Dodger bats were silent or the Pirates were teeing off on the Dodger pitching. Just one of those games.