Mike titled today’s game thread “let’s give Joc Pederson a chance.” Today, we saw why. Coming into today’s game, Pederson was hitting just .176/.263/.294 in 2015. After today’s 7-4 victory, Pederson is hitting .286/.375/.571. In the third inning, Pederson laced a double down the first base line and scored on a Jimmy Rollins sacrifice fly. He added an infield single in the fourth. Then in the top of the 6th, he did this:
Pederson’s first career home run, a convincing opposite field blast. Not a bad way to get things started.
Pederson wasn’t the only rookie to have a memorable day. Alex Guerrero certainly made the most of the opportunity created by Juan Uribe and Justin Turner‘s injuries. Guerrero drove in four of the Dodgers’ seven runs. He hit a bloop single in the fourth, a double down the line in the sixth, then in the ninth he connected for his first career home run:
That’s a major-league ready home run pimp tool. Guerrero also made a few plays at third base, though he was never really tested with anything beyond the routine. All in all, definitely a memorable day for the rookies.
Today’s win also had other encouraging signs (other than not being swept by the Diamondbacks). Yasiel Puig, benched yesterday after struggling in his first four games, first took a walk in hilarious fashion:
He followed that up with his first home run of the season, a blast to left-center off of Arizona starter Josh Collmenter. Puig also hit the ball hard in his third plate appearance, though that found Jake Lamb‘s glove.
Yasmani Grandal was also very impressive today. He did ground into a double play, but also singled as a part of fourth inning rally and singled again in the ninth. He made a few decent blocks behind the plate and caught a would-be base stealer. He also helped out Zack Greinke with some excellent pitch framing. Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez offered his generous help, of course, but it’s hard to say that Grandal didn’t offer some benefit. After a few years of A.J. Ellis (and neutral-to-poor framing back-ups), it’s a refreshing change.
Today’s offensive outburst shouldn’t overshadow how well Zack Greinke pitched. After Kershaw’s rough day, a good start from Greinke was extremely helpful. Greinke went seven innings, striking out seven and walking none. He induced nine swinging strikes in 101 pitches (8.9%), which is a bit low for him, but Greinke’s fastball command was so good that it didn’t matter. Grandal’s framing and Hernandez’ strike zone (4/7 strikeouts were looking) didn’t hurt.
The game wasn’t positive in all aspects. Jimmy Rollins had another rough day on defense, committing two errors on relatively routine plays. It’s way too early to judge his defensive ability this season, but his first week has been a bit of a letdown in that regard. Expecting him to be elite at age 36 isn’t fair, but the Dodgers were probably expecting average to slightly above. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.
Also not positive: the ninth inning. Paco Rodriguez started off the inning. He faced two batters, and the second reached on an infield single (which should have been an error on Scott Van Slyke). Don Mattingly pulled Rodriguez (with the Dodgers up by 7) and inserted Chris Hatcher. The move didn’t bother me as much as most people – Hatcher hadn’t pitched since Tuesday and needed work – but he didn’t exactly make the situation look better in hindsight. Hatcher walked a batter, struck out a batter, and allowed two singles and a double while throwing nothing but fastballs. The management was questionable, but the execution by the player was the real problem. Joel Peralta finally closed the door, but not until after a 10 pitch battle with Ender Inciarte ended with a long fly out to Pederson. Paul Goldschmidt, the potential tying run, was left in the on deck circle.