The Dodgers took the long way, but they finally got their first three-game winning streak and first series win of 2018, with a 12-inning victory against the Padres.
Padres’ starter Bryan Mitchell entered the game with a disturbing first inning trend. In the first inning of his three prior starts this season, Mitchell held an ERA of 12.00 and opposing batters hit .385 against him. After the first, his ERA shrunk to 3.38 and opponents average shrunk to .263.
These stats came into play tonight, as Chris Taylor led the game off with a sharp single up the middle. Corey Seager followed it up with a line-out, but Matt Kemp then drilled his third home run of the season to give Alex Wood an early 2-0 lead.
Mitchell escaped the rest of the first without any more damage done, but he wasn’t fooling anyone early on.
Mitchell’s second inning will go down in the history books, as he hit Chase Utley with a pitch. This was the 200th HBP of Utley’s 16-year career, making him the eighth player in baseball history to be hit 200 or more times. Three of these were on pitches in the strike zone. Chase Utley forever.
Congratulations to Chase Utley for taking his 200th career HBP.
Here's a look at all of ones since 2008 (143 entering tonight). pic.twitter.com/hEJfQYxwdK
— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) April 18, 2018
Mitchell actually retired the Dodgers in order in the third inning, only his second 1-2-3 inning of the season. He had no such luck in the fourth, as Cody Bellinger led off with a triple that nearly left the yard. In true Dodger fashion, they stranded him at third.
The Dodgers threatened again in the fifth, as Taylor and Seager singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Kemp hit the first pitch he saw to right field for a sac fly and his third RBI of the game. Bellinger followed it up by scorching a ball with a 110 MPH exit velocity, but Eric Hosmer made a slick stop at first base as the ball almost went through the webbing of his glove. Mitchell allowed a single in the sixth, but nothing else.
In all, Mitchell tossed six ugly innings and only allowed three runs. It could have been a lot worse with five hits and three walks allowed, but he kept the Padres in the game and gave them some length after Robbie Erlin only completed three innings in his start last night.
The Padres bullpen was one of the best in baseball before last night’s meltdown. They looked much better tonight, as Craig Stammen and Jordan Lyles kept the Dodgers off the bases in the seventh and eighth. Lyles allowed a leadoff single to Utley in the ninth, but got Kyle Farmer to hit into a double play. Austin Barnes reached on an error, but Lyles got a groundout to end the inning.
In the 10th, Brad Hand came in and struck out Seager before Enrique Hernandez came off the bench and hit a pinch-hit double to right. Bellinger missed a mistake and fouled out, and Yasmani Grandal hit a little nubber to end the threat.
Phil Maton put two Dodgers on in the 11th, but Taylor popped out to end the inning. Tyler Webb came in in the 12th and was greeted by a Seager leadoff single. Hernandez drew a walk, and Bellinger beat out a double play ball to put runners on the corners. That became quite important, as Grandal broke his 0-for-5 night with a two-run double to put the Dodgers back on top.
Webb was relieved by Kazuhisa Makita, who got a popup before intentionally walking Utley. Farmer followed Grandal’s suite with a two-run double of his own to put the Dodgers up 7-3.
On the other side, Wood rebounded extremely well from his poor outing last Wednesday against Oakland. He struck out the side in the first before giving up a weakly-hit infield single to Christian Villanueva in the second. That was the only baserunner Wood allowed until the sixth inning, when things began to unravel.
Carlos Asuaje led off the sixth with a double on the first batted ball hit over 100 MPH off Wood. Wood followed up the double by walking Matt Szczur, the first walk of the season for Wood. Wood had some luck, as Jose Pirela hit a little nubber that bounced up and hit Pirela in the hand, forcing him out and keeping the runners at first and second. However the luck was wasted, as Wood got Freddy Galvis to hit back to the box for what should have been an inning-ending double play, but Wood turned to fire to second and threw wide. No outs were recorded, a run scored, and Wood’s night was done.
Wood’s velocity was still a concern, as Baseball Savant had him topping out at 91.7 MPH and averaging 90.1 with the fastball. However, Wood was still efficient, tossing only 77 pitches in 5 1/3 innings. He left the game on a sour note with the error and an unearned run, but it was a very strong outing overall. He finished with seven strikeouts and four baserunners allowed.
Tony Cingrani was next up, and he struck Hosmer out on three pitches. He was then relieved by JT Chargois, who struck Hunter Renfroe out on three pitches as well to close the book on Wood. Chargois remained in in the seventh and walked Villanueva, but got a strikeout and a sac bunt before being pulled for Pedro Baez.
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) April 18, 2018
Baez struck out Asuaje to strand the runner and end the inning. He remained in for the eighth and struck out the side, giving him four strikeouts on the night. He only needed 16 pitches for those four strikeouts.
Kenley Jansen, who is apparently the worst of the relievers the Dodgers used tonight, came on for the ninth. Jansen’s second pitch was a cutter that didn’t cut, and Hosmer destroyed it to bring the Padres within a run. Jansen rebounded to strike out Renfroe, but left another cutter over the plate to Villanueva. Villanueva crushed it, but Taylor robbed him of a home run to keep the Dodgers ahead. Jansen really wanted me to break out the dumpster fire picture on my first recap, but Taylor had other ideas.
Jansen walked Franchy Cordero to put the tying run on base, and then a steal and a balk moved him to third. Chase Headley, who had one hit in the season, doubled to right to tie the game and give Jansen his second blown save. He got a strikeout to send the game into extras, but the result of this game doesn’t feel nearly as important as the issues with the Dodgers’ closer.
Jansen’s velocity was a bit better tonight (AVG 91.8 MPH, topped out at 93.9 on the cutter), but his command was problematic. He wasn’t fooling any Padres, and they were crushing his mistakes. It’s still early and his problems don’t seem physical at this point, but they should probably fix him, IMO.
Ross Stripling got the 10th and walked the first two batters after getting ahead of both of them. A fly ball advancing a runner and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out, but Stripling struck out Renfroe and Villanueva to escape danger.
Scott Alexander got the 11th and at one point walked pinch hitter Tyson Ross, who is a pitcher. At least he got Austin Hedges to hit into a double play to send the game to the 12th. Alexander even got a plate appearance as the Dodgers ran out of position players in extra innings (drink!), but he struck out to end the 12th.
Josh Fields came on for the 12th with a comfortable four-run lead and worked around a two-out single to close the door and give the Dodgers the win
The Dodgers look for the sweep in the finale tomorrow night. Kenta Maeda starts for the Dodgers and Luis Perdomo will start for the Padres. Perdomo is coming off a suspension and tomorrow’s his first day eligible to return. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PST.