The 4.23 ERA and 4.37 FIP of Clayton Richard aren’t necessarily great marks when you’ve spent so much of your career pitching at Petco Park, but it’s consistently fringe-average material, and most importantly he throws from the left side. That posed a unique test for a Dodgers team who returned many of the same players that posted a league-worst 78 wRC+ against lefties last season, but they did appear to take steps to address the weakness in the off-season.
Well none of that showed today.
Richard induced four rally-killing double plays from the Dodgers and induced ground ball after ground ball en route to eight shutout innings. Richard ended up with 12 ground outs, walked two and gave up five hits, but none for extra bases the day after the Dodgers exploded for 14 runs.
That was essentially the game. Brad Hand — another lefty just to punch the Dodgers in the nuts — technically closed out the game, but it was mop-up duty at that point.
For Richard, it's his first scoreless outing of 8+ IP since 8/8/12 against the Cubs.
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) April 5, 2017
LESS THAN IDEAL
On the other side of the ball, things weren’t great but were a bit misleading. Kenta Maeda relies on a lot of weak contact to get through his appearances, and while he got that in the first inning, it didn’t help him prevent runs from scoring. He didn’t help himself by walking the lead-off man, but the three singles in the inning were a hit-and-run pop-up to where the covering man vacated, a seeing-eyed single up the middle, and an infield single that Corey Seager couldn’t make a play on. Hell, even the sacrifice fly was just a fly ball down the line to the shortstop.
Still, that was enough for two runs, and a Yangervis Solarte homer in the third added another run. In the end, Maeda left after five innings having struck out four, but giving up three runs, six hits, and two walks. He was never at his best, but he wasn’t necessarily as bad as the line says he was either.
The bullpen today was Luis Avilan, Ross Stripling, and Grant Dayton, all of whom more or less did their jobs. In four frames, they allowed just one run and struck out five Padres. Stripling gave up the only run, but he did so on three singles and wasn’t helped by a errant Yasmani Grandal throw on a steal attempt.
Of course, it’s still early in the season and this is no time to panic, but basically the last thing the Dodgers needed was to struggle against a mediocre lefty starter today, continuing the (valid) narrative from last year.
Basically the only positive on the night was the Diamondbacks tweeting this out.
So the Dodgers now sit at 1-1 on the year, still keeping the possibility of 1-161 intact.
The Dodgers will play the Padres tomorrow again in the third game of a four-game set, with Rich Hill set to face Trevor Cahill. The game will be played at the same time as today, starting at 4:10 PM HST/7:10 PM PST/10:10 PM EST.