After an off-season that saw Freddie Freeman and Kenley Jansen change sides between the Dodgers and Braves, fans seemed as about as engaged as one could be for a mid-April series, and at least Freddie didn’t disappoint with a storybook first homer as a Dodger in his first at-bat against the Braves.
As one could expect, the game between World Series contenders was rather tight. It looked like the Dodgers might run away with it after they put up a crooked number to extend their lead, but the Braves fought back with a crooked number of their own before the Dodgers pen shut things down in a 7-4 victory.
Despite Alex’s terrible Huascar Ynoa pun in the title of the Game Thread, he didn’t throw a perfect game. Instead, the Dodgers jumped on Ynoa early through the aforementioned Freeman homer that made it 1-0. He also issued three walks through three innings, but didn’t pay for the wildness.
The 4th was a different story, as Justin Turner led-off with a double, Will Smith singled sharply to center to corner the runners, and Cody Bellinger ripped a ball to first that was an out but a bobble helped to score JT. Edwin Rios followed with a single of his own for another run to make it 3-0, and then Gavin Lux crushed a ball to center that fell short on the warning track.
Mookie Betts then walked and that was the end of the road for Ynoa.
Sean Newcomb probably wasn’t the guy to bring in to prevent further walks, as he issued a four-pitch walk to Freeman to load the bases, and then Trea Turner cleared them by ripping a double to double the lead to 6-0.
After escaping the 4th, Newcomb also gave up a walk and double in the 5th but managed to strand them.
Following up his seven perfect innings was always going to be impossible for Clayton Kershaw, but he did a solid impression through four shutout innings, allowing only a single and a double. Staked to a six-run lead by the 5th, he got bitten by Guillermo Heredia of all people for a homer to left that made it 6-1.
Things then got dicey in the 6th as the Braves got to see Kershaw for the third time. Ozzie Albies immediately met him by bombing a homer to left to cut the deficit to 6-2, then a single and a double put the Dodgers in some trouble and that was the end of Kershaw’s night: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 87 Pitches.
Brusdar Graterol then entered to attempt a great escape. He got off to a great start with a strikeout and then getting Adam Duvall to ground out as the Dodgers exchanged a run for an out. Graterol seemed to get out of things when he jammed Travis d’Arnaud, but the ball hit at 66 mph fell into shallow left for a single that scored another run to make it 6-4. A double followed and suddenly the tying run was in scoring position, but he came through with a strikeout to keep the two-run lead intact.
The 7th belonged to Daniel Hudson, who gave up a single but also struck out two in a scoreless frame. Surprisingly Phil Bickford made his season debut in the 8th, a hell of a spot, but he was effective, giving up just an infield single in a scoreless frame that included a strikeout.
Meanwhile, the Braves pen had been keeping the Dodgers quiet as they mounted their comeback attempt. A.J. Minter and Darren O’Day combined for clean 6th and 7th frames, but Jackson Stephens started the 8th by giving up an absolute laser to center for a homer from Bellinger to make it 7-4.
Of course, it had to end with a team’s former closer trying for the save, and thankfully it was the Dodgers and Craig Kimbrel. He started the outing with a strikeout, but it got behind Smith and a runner was on, but a weak grounder up the middle led to a double play. In the end, he faced the minimum, getting a weak grounder to end it.
Freddie and Kenley.
Hanser Alberto has been a pleasure.
The Dodgers improve to 8-2 on the year and have reeled off seven wins in a row.