The Dodgers beat the Rays tonight, 3-2, giving the Dodgers their third consecutive win and putting them at 6-4 since the All-Star break. It probably should’ve been an easy win, but because the Dodgers are the Dodgers, we know that could never happen.
A win is a win.
The Rays lineup has had trouble scoring all year, and Bud Norris did his best to keep their struggles going. Norris went 6.1 shutout innings on 104 pitches, surrendering just two hits and two walks while striking out six batters. Norris managed to accomplish this despite the fact that Dave Roberts continued his intentional walk fetish, this time to a backup rookie catcher with a sub-.500 OPS. With the walk, the Dodgers have now regained sole position of issuing the second-most intentional walks in the league.
That said, he did exit with a runner on first, and J.P. Howell didn’t help matters by walking the only batter he faced. Fortunately, Pedro Baez came up clutch (yes, really) and got his two batters out to now allow any damage at all.
I wish Joe Blanton could say the same, though. Blanton started the eighth inning by giving up three consecutive hits for a run before notching a strikeout and exiting the game with one down and runners on second and third. Luis Avilan was then entrusted to escape trouble, and besides one of Blanton’s runs scoring on a wild pitch, he retired his two batters with an intentional walk (justified this time) sandwiched between to escape massive trouble.
The Dodgers struggled all night against (future Dodger) Chris Archer, managing just four hits against him while he struck out eight over seven innings.
Fortunately, they did manage to get scrape together two runs in the third inning, taking advantage of two errors by the Rays. With one out, Joc Pederson grounded to second, but a rushed throw to first resulted in a dropped ball error and Joc reaching. Norris followed by sacrificing to first to move Joc to second, and a Chase Utley check swing led to a Archer throwing error to put runners on the corner with two down. Corey Seager and Justin Turner took advantage of the situation with back-to-back singles, driving in Pederson and Utley, respectively.
In the seventh, Yasmani Grandal provided what turned out to be a much-needed insurance run with a bomb to right on a 95 mph shoulder-high fastball on a 1-2 count.
An impressive piece of hitting there, but in total the Dodgers only managed five hits on the night.
Fortunately then, Kenley Jansen got back on track (sorta), though not without dramatics. A lead-off single led to a sac bunt to move that runner into scoring position, but Kenley struck out the next batter. After he hit a man to put runners on first and second with two down, he notched a strikeout to end the game and get his 30th save.
With the win, the Dodgers improve to 57-44 overall and an impressive 31-18 at home. The Giants are leading the Reds right now, but at the moment the Dodgers are 2 games back in the NL West race. In the NL Wild Card race, the Marlins won, so the Dodgers lead by 2.5 games in the chase for home-field advantage. Meanwhile, the Mets split a doubleheader with the Cardinals, so the Dodgers are up 3 games on the Mets in the chase just to make the playoffs.
The Dodgers complete the brief two-game series against the Rays tomorrow afternoon at 9:10 AM HST/12:10 PM PST/3:10 PM EST with Brandon McCarthy (1.61 ERA/2.35 FIP/3.68 DRA) facing off against Matt Moore (4.31 ERA/4.54 FIP/4.44 DRA).