After the 110-win team struggled with the Pirates last year, perhaps it’s only appropriate that a lesser version of the Dodgers do well against the red-hot Pirates this year. So far so good, as the Dodgers got a comeback 8-7 win to start the series.
The Dodgers have now won three in a row and four of their last five.
Despite mediocre results, Noah Syndergaard has largely avoided disaster this year despite perhaps the worst stuff of his career. Well today things seemed to catch up to him, as the Pirates singled and stole their way to four runs in the first three innings off him, where he was only saved from two more by David Peralta.
Then in the 4th, Andrew McCutchen landed the big blow with a three-run oppo homer to make it seven earned off Fat Thor.
It wasn’t pretty: 4 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 80 Pitches.
Despite that outing, the bats did their best to keep things competitive against Jose Oviedo and the Pirates.
They stranded a runner on second in the 2nd, then went down in order in the 3rd and 4th. The Pirates seemed to be cruising to victory, but the Dodgers chipped into the lead in the 5th thanks to some luck. After a lead-off single from Chris Taylor, two outs seemed to kill any rally potential, but Freddie reached on an infield single to short and CT3 ended up scoring on the play.
It was the 6th that really provided hope, however. The youngsters led the way as James Outman started with a ground-rule double to left, Vargas drew a walk, and Michael Busch came up with his first MLB hit to drive Outman in.
A Taylor single to load the bases knocked Oviedo out, and against their pen Austin Barnes of all people managed a deep enough fly to center for a sacrifice to make it 7-5 all of a sudden. Things seemed to get even better for the Dodgers when Mookie Betts lifted a deep fly to left for a go-ahead homer, but Jack Suwinski had other ideas.
After going down in order in the 7th, the Dodgers rallied again in the 8th, and again behind their youngsters. Vargas started the frame with a clean single back up the box, and Busch later drew a walk to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. And that mattered because Taylor drilled a dong to left for his third hit of the day and three runs to put the Dodgers in front 8-7.
That was it for the offense, as a rally in the 9th with runners on second and third wasn’t taken advantage of.
Of course, while all this was going on, you may have noticed that the seven runs for the Pirates had stayed at seven runs the entire time.
That’s because the pen showed out tonight, starting with call-up Victor Gonzalez returning with a reinvigorated fastball to work around a lead-off double for a scoreless 5th. He was followed by Evan Phillips returning from paternity leave, getting a 1-2-3 frame. The 7th belonged to Yency Almonte, who gave up a single but struck out two and seemed to find his sweeper.
So all that was relatively calm, but there was high drama in the 8th. After taking the lead, Caleb Ferguson entered and while he got two outs he also gave up a single, walk, and hit a batter to load the bases. Dave Roberts let him cook against Andrew McCutchen with the bases juiced and despite running the count to 3-1, he got him to pop out foul.
That left Shelby Miller as the closer in the 9th, and he really helped my heart rate with a clean 1-2-3 frame to close out the win.
13-11 … hope?