The Los Angeles Dodgers outhit, outpitched, and ultimately outlasted the San Francisco Giants in ten innings on a rainy Saturday afternoon in San Francisco. After the beginning of the game was delayed due to weather, the two teams eventually took part in a wild affair that saw the Dodgers win in ten innings.
Despite Los Angeles’ inability to string together any sensible offense whenever a runner was in scoring position, they found a way to grind the game into extra innings thanks to a mistake supplied by the Giants. They then had to gut out a scare in the bottom of the ninth before winning it in the tenth. I have some thoughts about the game.
Takeaway #1: Clayton Kershaw is good at baseball related activities. Okay, but you already knew that. However, consider what he was dealing with in this game. Kershaw warmed up for a 1 PM start, but the game got delayed for 45 minutes so he had to get cold and then try to warmup again. He wasn’t crisp throughout the game, but he was definitely good enough. He gave the Dodgers eight great innings and only had to throw 91 pitches. Kershaw essentially was his own bullpen, as well. Anytime a starter goes eight quality innings, you’re able to shorten your bullpen a ton. The Dodgers were able to do that because of him.
While he did give up home runs to the number eight and number nine hitters — Madison Bumgarner and Ehire Adrianza, respectively — in the same game for the first time in his big league career, Kershaw rebounded nicely by giving up just two other hits. He also struck out five batters, walked only one, and got a ton of weak contact outs. Considering the conditions he was pitching in, the delay he had to deal with, and the lack of run support for the duration of the day, Kershaw delivered when the team needed him to do so. You can’t ask for much more out of your ace.
Takeaway #2: The situational hitting for the Dodgers was, for lack of a better term, porous. Los Angeles was just 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position. You’re reading that correctly. You don’t need to adjust your vision. Two for twenty-one. The Dodgers came into the contest hitting a league-best .440 (22-for-50) with runners in scoring position this season. They were 7-for-18 (.389) with runners in scoring position during the first two games of the series, as well. It wasn’t like they were struggling at all. That is, until today. The Dodgers constantly had issues with moving runners over. Whether that was with a bunt or just pushing the ball to the right side, it didn’t matter. They failed at it. Repeatedly.
Four times in the game the Dodgers got the leadoff batter into scoring position with zero outs. He was stranded all four times. They had the bases loaded three times, and only scored two runs out of it. The two runs came courtesy of a hit by pitch and a botched double play ball with one out in the ninth inning. In other words, the Dodgers did everything at the plate to not score runs when runners were in position to be cashed in. Is it regression to the mean or just a really bad day? Hard to say. We won’t know until all the numbers start to sort themselves out in a month or two. Still, the situational hitting was extremely lackluster, and the fact the Dodgers won a game despite going 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position and leaving 13 men on base really tells you the story of this game. Corey Seager and Charlie Culberson did some quality situational hitting when it truly mattered, though.
Takeaway #3: Going to Chris Hatcher was dangerously risky, and maybe ill-advised, but it worked. A lot of people operate in the results oriented realm of things. A move is only a good move if it works out, and a move is only a bad move if it doesn’t work out. There’s very little gray area for some people. However, that’s not the correct prism to view sports, especially baseball, through. Chris Hatcher was coming off of a disastrous 21-pitch outing the night before, so bringing him back a day later, especially in an afternoon game, seemed risky. Especially when factoring in that he would be facing the heart of the Giants order: Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Matt Duffy, and, if anyone got on, Brandon Belt. Kenley Jansen was warming up alongside Hatcher in the bullpen in the top of the ninth, and the move to Hatcher over Jansen for the bottom of the ninth was certainly perplexing.
While it did work, it was a scary bet. After giving up a liner to left field off the bat of Posey, Hatcher appeared to tweak his ankle on the wet mound. He stayed in the game to pitch to Pence, and disaster was certainly around the corner. Except it never came. Hatcher struck out Pence on a nasty breaking ball for the first out and, while Posey stole second base because of a dislodged tag on the thrown down, that was the start of something good. Hatcher then struck out Duffy looking, and Dave Roberts had him intentionally walk Belt in order to get to a perceived lesser hitter. Bruce Bochy went to Joe Panik. Hatcher started off 3-0 to Panik, and he was on the verge of walking the bases loaded. However, Hatcher buckled down and ended up battling back to strikeout Panik to get out of the jam. The move to Hatcher worked, but it wasn’t an easy one. Hatcher threw 28 pitches, and it was some of the most nerve-racking pitches you’ll ever see.
Takeaway #4: Dave Roberts got outmanaged by Bruce Bochy, but it ultimately did not matter. Bruce Bochy might be the best manager in the game. If he’s not the best, then he’s definitely top three. I wouldn’t hold it against anyone if they picked Joe Maddon. Either way, first-year skipper Dave Roberts happened to get outmanaged by the wily veteran manager from San Francisco. None of this should be shocking. After all, Bochy has been around the block so many times that he could fall asleep and still find his way home. He’s that good. Still, there was a stretch in the eighth inning that didn’t exactly go the way of Roberts, and it has to be somewhat concerning to see.
Bochy brought in left-hander Javier Lopez to begin the eighth, and Adrian Gonzalez lined a leadoff double to left to get things started. Joc Pederson was due up next, but Roberts decided that he had something better in mind. Roberts went to right-handed hitting Austin Barnes, and Bruce Bochy then replaced Lopez with right-hander Hunter Strickland. This meant that Pederson was now lost for the game. Roberts called for Barnes to bunt, something he had done just five times since 2013, and Barnes failed to do so. He struck out swinging after failing on two bunts. Trayce Thompson was next up, and he struck out. Roberts then pinch hit for A.J. Ellis with Corey Seager, who promptly was intentionally walked. The inning ended with Charlie Culberson lining out to right. While Seager and Culberson delivered in the tenth, the eighth inning was still an inning that Roberts got woefully outmanaged.
Roberts burned through two pinch hitters, one of whom got intentionally walked, and had nothing to show for it. The Dodgers were left with just one player, Micah Johnson, on the bench after all of that. It was definitely an interesting ordeal to watch as it transpired, and Bochy played his tune to perfection while Roberts stumbled his way through it all. It’s hard to blame Roberts since it is just the sixth game of the season, but it was slightly disturbing to watch. He’ll definitely get better at all of this as the season goes along, but you can see the inexperience rear its head every now and then.
Takeaway #5: We’re only six games into the season, so it’s okay to not freak out over potential losses. I’d rather write this section after a win than after a loss. It’s a lot easier to digest. Throughout the game, people online were freaking out because a potential loss was right around the corner when the ninth inning started. I get why. They’re playing the hated Giants. Every loss to the Giants feels like 50 to everyone else. I do get it. However, we’re not even a full week into the season so it might be time for everyone to just take a deep breath in games that aren’t going well and realize just how much of the season still remains.
We’re 3.7 percent of the way through the season. The Dodgers are 4-2, and all of those games have been on the road. Their offense has been good, despite what their hitting with runners in scoring position said today, and their starting pitching has been great. The only blip on the radar seems to be the bullpen, but it’s not as bad as has been reported. It hasn’t been great, but it hasn’t been terrible. Sometimes a step back from the ledge is needed in order to get a clearer vision of what’s really going on out there.
Tomorrow’s a new day, and this win should at least help some get through the night. It’s a long season. In a lot of ways, it helps to look at things like this: you win 54 games, you lose 54 games, and the other 54 are where your season is decided. You’re going to be 54-54, theoretically speaking, because of guaranteed wins and losses. The other 54 games are where the money is earned. No team has gone 162-0, and no team has gone 0-162. The team will go through a losing stretch this season, just like they’ll go through a winning one, so just take everything in small doses and be understanding that they can’t win every game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’ll all be okay.