The Dodgers entered tonight in a mess of a slump, losers of their last five games and just desperately trying to avoid a sweep against the rival Giants. After the Dodgers got an excellent starting performance and worked so hard to scratch across runs, a new name in the pen blew it again, but thankfully they ended up edging out the Giants in extras, 4-3.
Hyun-Jin Ryu made his first start since May 2, when he exited after just 30 pitches due to a significant groin injury. Amazingly, he pitched as if nothing had happened.
Ryu started by retiring 13 of the first 14 batters he faced, allowing just a bloop double to Brandon Belt in the 1st. However, he got in trouble in the 5th when he allowed back-to-back one-out singles, but rebounded with back-to-back strikeouts to get out of it. That was the only trouble he was in all night long.
Six scoreless and six strikeouts makes for a good night. #DodgersRelief
Tonight's quality start presented by @Biofreeze: https://t.co/TsqhE57z11 pic.twitter.com/mjt2kZIKyO
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 16, 2018
Ryu finished with six shutout innings on 89 pitches, surrendering just three hits and walking none while striking out six. Honestly, it was one of the best starts he’s likely ever had, which is remarkable considering the circumstances.
For all the talk about the pen, the bats are just about as responsible for this stretch. Early on they seemed determined to prove why, stranding runners in scoring position in the 1st and 4th, in addition to wasting a lead-off double in the 2nd.
The 5th started promising as well with a Brian Dozier double, but things seemed to be headed down a familiar path after Justin Turner grounded back to the pitcher and Manny Machado was intentionally walked. That brought up Matt Kemp in the midst of his gigantic slump, but this time he came through with a broken-bat single to center that appeared to plate Dozier. However, on replay, it was clear that Gorkys Hernandez had thrown him out at home.
That wasn’t even the end of the rally either, as they still had runners at first and third with two outs, and after a Chris Taylor walk they had the bases loaded. The red-hot Cody Bellinger pinch-hit … and popped out on the first pitch to end the threat.
Thankfully, the offense did manage to get Ryu a run. Yasiel Puig started the 6th with a lead-off double, was advanced to third on a deep fly to right by Yasmani Grandal, and scored on a Joc Pederson fly to right, which gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
JT Chargois was then asked to hold the slim advantage in the 7th, and he managed to do just that with a 1-2-3 frame that was punctuated by a strikeout of a lefty. The bats then rallied in their half of the 7th behind a JT walk, a Machado double down the line to score JT, and a Kemp single to plate Manny, making it 3-0 for the Dodgers late.
Well thank god they did, because Caleb Ferguson entered as seemingly the only man left in the pen that hadn’t blown up yet and proceeded to do exactly that. He allowed a single and a walk to start, but things seemed to settle after a strikeout, or at least they did until Andrew McCutchen deposited a hanging curve over the wall in center for a game-tying three-run homer. Amazingly, it was the seventh game in a row in which the pen has coughed up the lead.
To sum up the Dodgers' bullpen in the last 7 days:
THU: Baez blown lead in 7th (LA won)
FRI: Rosscup blown lead 7th
SAT: Chargois blown lead 9th
SUN: Floro loss in 9th (was tied)
MON: Alexander blown lead 9th
TUE: Maeda loss in 9th (tied)
WED: Ferguson blown lead 8th
— Eric Stephen (@ericstephen) August 16, 2018
Ferguson got the second out of the inning on a pop up before being relieved by Erik Goeddel, who helped avoid complete disaster by inducing a fly out to get out of the 8th. Unfortunately, the bats could not respond, as with two outs Dozier walked and reached second on a wild pitch, but JT struck out looking on two questionable calls in a row to end the threat.
Goeddel continued in the 9th and got a 1-2-3 frame including a strikeout, albeit with two deep fly balls as well. In their half of the 9th, Machado almost ended it with a deep fly ball driven to center, but it fell just short. With two down, CT3 singled and he then stole second, and with the pitcher’s spot on deck, they intentionally walked Bellinger and Kenta Maeda pinch-hit to promptly strike out. Going back to the move to hit Bellinger for Enrique in the 5th, it was a questionable risk to start playing matchups that early for this reason, but if Cody parks one then this isn’t an issue as well. Jon Weisman also previously brought up a point about Austin Barnes and Grandal that applies to this as well.
I don't know what's gone wrong with Austin Barnes this year, but having to use Yasmani Grandal to hit for Barnes while running a four-man bench is a bigger problem for the Dodgers than who will pitch in the 16th inning of a game once every three years.
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) July 25, 2018
So it goes.
Scott Alexander was next out of the pen in the 10th, who started by allowing an infield hit to Hunter Pence on a dribbler like 10 feet in front of the plate. He was then promptly bunted to second, and a chopped ground out allowed him to reach third. Dave Roberts then issued an intentional walk to put runners at the corners, opting to get a lefty-lefty matchup with Belt instead, and the move paid off as Belt grounded out weakly to short to end it. In their half of the 10th, the Dodgers mounted a two-out rally for the third inning in a row. This time Dozier drew a walk and JT sharply singled to center, but Manny couldn’t come up with the big hit and struck out instead.
That brought on Pedro Baez in the 11th, who rather hilariously got an easy 1-2-3 frame with a strikeout to end it. Kemp started things promisingly with a walk in their half of the 11th, but CT3 immediately erased things with a double play. That allowed the Giants to intentionally walk Bellinger again, and Baez gave a valiant effort but flew out to short.
Pedro then had to refocus and get the 12th, getting yet another 1-2-3 inning, including another strikeout. Grandal started the Dodgers half of the 12th promising with a lead-off double to right-center, and Max Muncy followed with a single to right to put runners on the corners. Mercifully, Dozier managed to muscle a fly ball to left center for a walk-off sacrifice fly.
.@alannarizzo caught up with tonight's #Dodgers hero @BrianDozier after his walk-off sac fly vs. the #SFGiants in the 12th inning. pic.twitter.com/xU1hx7FO5L
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) August 16, 2018
The Dodgers improve to 65-57 on the year and 32-30 at Chavez Ravine. With the Diamondbacks idle, they’re now 1.5 games back of the NL West leaders, and while they’re even with the Rockies on games they still remain in third-place in the division by percentage points.
Almost mercifully, the Dodgers have tomorrow off, and they’ll be heading to Seattle for a three-game interleague series against the Mariners. Walker Buehler is scheduled to pitch, squaring off against Wade LeBlanc.