After striking for three runs in the first inning, the Los Angeles Dodgers were only able to scratch out two more runs the rest of the way. Ultimately, the Colorado Rockies were the winners in a hotly contested game that featured quite a few highlights.
Scott Kazmir got the start for the Dodgers tonight, and right-hander Jon Gray took the mound for Colorado. The highly-touted Gray finished with a career-high 10 strikeouts in five innings. Kazmir also went five innings. From there, the bullpens decided things. But it’s time for the takeaways.
Takeaway #1: Yasiel Puig is a guided missile that was set on this earth to mystify and amaze. I don’t care what anyone else in this world says. There is no other player in baseball like Yasiel Puig. Sure, he’s not as good as some of the other players, but no other player takes your breath away like Puig can. It doesn’t matter if that’s because he’s doing something wildly exciting in a good way or attempting to make a great play and having it end poorly. Puig is Puig, and we all love him for it. Well, tonight, we got a major glimpse of his uncanny greatness.
In the bottom of the fifth in a game that the Dodgers were leading 5-4, Trevor Story came up to bat with one out and nobody on base. Story ripped a baseball to right center field. Puig gave chase, but when he jumped at the newly constructed fence in right field, the ball went over the top of his glove. It bounced in front of him, and then Puig picked it up as Story was rounding second base looking for a one-out triple. That’s when the magic happened. Puig uncorked a monstrous throw that was clocked at 93.5 miles per hour. It never bounced, it never needed a cutoff man, and it never needed help. It landed perfectly in Justin Turner’s glove at third base right as a sliding Story met it. Story was out, but the real story was Puig.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 23, 2016
Forget everything you ever knew about baseball before this moment. A grown man threw a ball about 325 feet on a rope and had it meet a sprinting player right at the bag. It was an unholy abomination of a throw. It was a throw concocted by a being not of this earth, and we are now unequivocally certain that Yasiel Puig is the greatest show in baseball simply because you never know what’s going to happen. When something like this happens, you sit in bewilderment until someone instructs you that you forgot to breathe for 30 minutes.
Takeaway #2: Scott Kazmir struggled, but did keep the Dodgers in the game. It wasn’t a brilliantly pitched game by Kazmir, but let’s be honest here for a second: he did keep the team in the game despite it being Coors Field and despite him getting into some trouble at times. He had two 1-2-3 innings, and made 88 pitches in his five innings of work. He also gave up four runs, all earned, and walked a batter while striking out just two. Kazmir also gave up two home runs.
The Rockies took 49 swings against Kazmir tonight, but swung and missed on eight of them. That’s a swinging strike rate of 16.32 percent. That’s actually really good for a pitcher to have. While some of those were against fellow pitcher Jon Gray, the good thing is that Kazmir made some good pitches out there and got some weak contact. The home runs aren’t good, but it is Coors Field. When you take the stadium into context, giving up four runs in five innings and keeping your team in the game certainly isn’t a bad thing. He battled, and it’s a start.
Takeaway #3: Corey Seager had an absolutely wonderful day at the plate. The rookie shortstop made the final out of the game on a groundout, but everything else he did tonight was magical. Seager went 2-for-3 at the plate with two walks. He reached in his first four plate appearances. On top of that, he hit a first inning two-run home run off of Gray that put the Dodgers in front 2-0 before the first out had even been recorded. He delivered in a big way.
Seager was mired in a 3-for-29 slump coming into this game, and maybe it was the help of Coors Field that led to this great night for him, but either way he delivered for Los Angeles. The youngster is going to go through ebbs and flows throughout his first full season, so it’s always a good sign to see him break out of a slump with a home run. The fact he did so early in the game is also a swell omen. Really, really nice night for him.
Takeaway #4: Like Seager, Adrian Gonzalez was splendid at the dish today. The butter and eggs man went shopping a few times tonight. Gonzalez did strikeout against the Rockies this evening, but he also went 2-for-4 with three runs batted in. One of those runs was courtesy of himself as he launched an absolutely massive home run to right field to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead in the top of the first.
The beauty with a player such as Adrian Gonzalez is that you know what you’re going to get out of him. The veteran first baseman is hitting .364 this season, and he’s already up to 13 runs batted in and three home runs. He’s driving in runs, he’s producing at the plate in all facets, and he’s still a lethal part of the team’s lineup. It was fantastic to see a bomb from him tonight.
Takeaway #5: The bullpen had a tough night after a great stretch of pitching. Not everything was rosy for the team tonight, and the bullpen probably supplied the part that people will find a gripe with. After a stellar stretch of games where they gave up only one earned run in their last 26.1 innings coming into tonight’s game, the relievers gave up three in three innings. Two of the three were given up by right-hander Chris Hatcher.
These games happen. Especially at Coors Field. It shouldn’t wipe away any of the goodwill that these guys garnered over the last several outings, and they’ll likely rebound after they leave Colorado since that place is a haven for sadness and poor pitching results. The good news is that Adam Liberatore came in and struck out the only batter he faced. The bad news is that Yimi Garcia had to leave the game due to an injury. Hopefully it is not as serious as it looked.