The Dodgers took game two against the Giants behind strong pitching.
The Dodgers finally got a start from their trade deadline acquisition, and it seems like he was worth the wait.
Rich Hill made his long-anticipated Dodger debut. He hadn’t thrown a pitch in a game since July 7th, so there was quite a bit of uncertainty around him.
For those (myself included) that supported the trade despite Hill’s blister, Hill rewarded us for our patience. Hill got himself in a bit of trouble with a pair of weakly-hit singles in the first, but froze Brandon Crawford with a filthy curveball to escape the jam. Turns out, that was the only Giant baserunner to reach scoring position against Hill.
Hill allowed singles in each of the first four innings, but kept the Giants off the board. He followed that up with perfect fifth and sixth innings. Hill finished the night with six innings of five-hit, no-run ball. That will play.
Hill showed a filthy curveball and solid location on his fastball throughout this start. While most pitchers rely on the fastball to get them ahead in the count, Hill’s curveball is his main weapon and he can throw it in any count. He absolutely shoved and got through six with 81 pitches. He only struck out three, but scattered five hits and didn’t walk a batter.
Pulling him after only six innings was definitely controversial, but it was probably the right idea. Hill didn’t make any rehab starts and had thrown 12 innings since May, so easing him in was smart. Despite his great final line, Hill also had a weird outing. Early on, he gave up some weak singles and wasn’t getting barreled. Towards the end of his outing, the Giants started hitting the ball hard, just right at defenders. One more inning probably would have been fine, but getting him out on a high note was nice.
The Dodgers lit up Madison Bumgarner in game one, but struggled against Johnny Cueto tonight. He had a no-hitter through three innings and looked like he was rolling. However, Justin Turner broke up the no-no and the shutout with his 24th homer of the season. Fittingly enough on Kobe Bryant Day.
The Dodgers scattered some hits later on in his outing, but didn’t have much to show for it. Howie Kendrick poked a double to right field in the fifth, but was stranded at second by Hill. Hill is a career .123 hitter and I’m honestly shocked it’s that high.
Other than the Turner homer, the offense was pretty ineffective. They scattered five hits and only scored the one run, but that was all they needed.
Hill was replaced by Pedro Baez in the seventh. Baez issued a one-out walk to Brandon Belt, but sandwiched that in between a popup and a strikeout. The walk forced Cueto’s spot up, which led to him being lifted for a pinch hitter.
Conner Gillaspie pinch-hit for Cueto, so the Dodgers countered with Adam Liberatore, who ended the inning with a lineout.
Joe Blanton got the eighth and issued a walk and a single to put runners on the corners with two outs. Blanton seemingly convinced Roberts to leave him in to face the lefty Crawford, and he got him to fly out to the wall to end the threat.
Kenley Jansen came in for the second straight night and had a 1-2-3 to seal the win. Jansen threw 29 pitches in the last two days, so I’d hope he’ll be available tomorrow if the Dodgers are in a position to sweep.
The win gives the Dodgers a three game lead in the West. The Giants will leave Los Angeles in second place, win or lose tomorrow. It also gives the Dodgers a bit of breathing room. After the Giants’ series, the Dodgers face the Cubs while the Giants play the Braves. The absolute worst-case scenario is the Giants win the finale and sweep the Braves while the Dodgers get swept by Chicago. If this happens, the Dodgers will still only be a game back.
The Giants shifted their rotation so Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto would start the first two games. The Dodgers just won both of those games.