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FSM Essential Recap: Dodgers vs Pirates – Series 20

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Los Angeles Dodgers (37-25)  |  Pittsburgh Pirates (23-38)

 

“Baseball is like driving, it’s the one who gets home safely that counts.”

– Tommy Lasorda

 

Game 3:

 

Dodgers vs Pirates
Photo Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Dodgers and Pirates knew rain was on the horizon for their series finale on Thursday. The rain eventually came during the eighth, and the the game was called after an hour delay. Luckily for the Dodgers, they were able to have the 6-3 lead, which resulted in them leaving Pittsburgh with the victory.

Mookie Betts got this game started with a bang. On the third pitch he saw, Betts crushed a homer over the center-field fence. That was his first homer in nearly a month, as the last homer he hit was on May 18 against the D-Backs.

Betts was making an impact not only at the plate but with his glove as well. In the second inning, he made an incredible catch and had an even better throw to prevent a run and have an inning-ending double play.

The Dodgers tacked on three runs in the third inning to give them a bit of a cushion. They loaded the bases to begin the inning, bringing Zach McKinstry up with zero outs. He flew out but brought in the go-ahead run. After an intentional walk to Austin Barnes, the bases were loaded for starter Julio Urias.

I guess the Pirates didn’t get the memo that Urias can absolutely rake. He worked a great at-bat and singled in two runs, giving the Dodgers a 4-1 lead. Urias now leads all pitchers in baseball with seven runs driven in on the year. Sorry Clayton Kershaw, it looks like Urias might be stealing your Silver Slugger Award.

 

Dodgers vs Pirates
Photo Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images

Urias would end up giving the Dodgers six innings. He allowed three runs on six hits and had five strikeouts to go with zero walks. It was another solid outing for the young lefty.

McKinstry drove in another run in the seventh inning to help extend the Dodgers’ lead to two. The Dodgers were beginning to do damage in the eighth inning before the game was called. Betts and Max Muncy reached base to begin the inning, with Justin Turner singling in a run to make it 6-3 Dodgers.

With runners on first and second and one out, Albert Pujols was at the plate for the Dodgers. After seeing three pitches, the game was put on pause due to rain.

Eventually, the game was called, and the Dodgers were rewarded with the victory, giving them the series sweep against the Pirates.

 

Game 3 Boxscore:

 

WP: Julio Urias (9-2)

LP: Mitch Keller (3-7)

SV: Phil Bickford (1)

HR: Mookie Betts (6) Bryan Reynolds (10)

 

The Dodgers come back to L.A. to Texas to take on the Rangers tonight. Clayton Kershaw takes the mound looking to rebound from back-to-back poor starts and will face the Rangers Mike Foltynewicz. The first pitch is at 7:10 and can be seen on SportsNet LA.

 

 

Game 2:

 

Dodgers vs Pirates
Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Justin Turner homered twice, providing just enough offense to back a stellar Dodgers pitching effort to beat the Pirates 2-1 on Wednesday night at PNC Park. Only the run prevention didn’t go exactly as planned.

A funny thing happened on the way to getting the bullpen some relief, with the Dodgers now sporting a rotation with five starting pitchers. But Tony Gonsolin was wild in his first game off the injured list, a starting pitcher only nominally.

The hope was that Gonsolin, who maxed out at 60 pitches and 3⅔ innings in his minor league rehab assignment, would be able to get through five innings on Wednesday, but he wasn’t even close.

Gonsolin walked a pair in the first inning and allowed a pair of hits. The run that scored against him was on a play that had at least two, and probably three chances to be the final out of the inning, arguably one of the worst Dodgers defensive plays of the year.

A liner from Gregory Polanco went off — and seemingly throughAlbert Pujols’ glove. Chris Taylor retrieved the ball in short right field near the foul line, only to unleash a two-hop throw that seemed to die on its way to the plate. But even after all that, the ball still got to the plate in time, where Will Smith received the ball behind home plate, giving Bryan Reynolds a clear and easy path to score.

The bad defense was no reason to exonerate Gonsolin, who escaped further damage by leaving the bases loaded in a 36-pitch first, only to walk three straight batters with two outs in the second. That spelled the end of the night for Gonsolin, who walked a career-worst five and needed 66 pitches to record only five outs.

“He just didn’t have command, all across the board. I don’t think it was nerves,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Both breaking balls were sharp, and then that changeup, there were a couple good ones, but it just wasn’t consistent.”

Gonsolin is the first Dodgers pitcher to walk at least five and has at least as many walks as outs since Brandon McCarthy on August 13, 2016, also against Pittsburgh, though that game was at Dodger Stadium.

 

Dodgers vs Pirates
Photo Credit: Justin Berl/Getty Images

On the plus side, his stuff looked good at times. He struck out four but was really only able to throw his fastball and splitter for strikes. He threw 10 curves and five sliders, and only three of those 15 pitches were in the zone.

“I threw a lot of balls, and couldn’t find the zone with anything,” Gonsolin said. “I competed through it, and luckily got out of there with only one [run allowed]. The bullpen threw great today, and they really picked me up.”

Victor Gonzalez was the first called into the impromptu bullpen game, and the left-hander jumped the smoke to get the lefty-batting Colin Moran to line out to left field to end the second, leaving the bases loaded yet again.

Gonzalez recorded four outs, David Price recorded six. Joe Kelly pitched an inning, then Blake Treinen got five outs for his longest appearance of the season. Kenley Jansen, who needed only three pitches in an unexpected outing to finish off Tuesday’s opener, got the final four outs Wednesday for his fourth save longer than an inning this season.

Seven runners reached base in the first two frames against Gonsolin. But the Dodgers bullpen allowed only five to reach base over the final 7⅓ innings. Only two reached scoring position.

“Every one of those guys stepped up tonight,” Roberts said.

The final play of the game was Jansen versus Ke’Bryan Hayes with the tying run on second base. Hayes lined a ball directly back up the middle, one that found Jansen’s glove. Whether Jansen caught it, or the ball caught him, the last out was recorded for a Dodgers win.

“That was fun. That was a quick rush, you know, adrenaline and everything,” said Jansen, beaming ear to ear just minutes after the play. “It’s kind of escape for your life. The reaction time, to catch that ball, that’s awesome.”

“The adrenaline rush right there was big,” Roberts said. “He got two big saves for us in two days. He’ll be down tomorrow.”

Wednesday marked the 12th straight win for the Dodgers over the Pirates, tied for the second-longest win streak against Pittsburgh in franchise history. That other 12-game win streak came in 1890 for Brooklyn, in the Dodgers’ (then the Bridegrooms) the first year in the National League.

 

Game 2 Boxscore:

 

WP: Victor Gonzalez (3-0)

LP: Tyler Anderson (3-6)

SV: Kenley Jansen (14)

HR: Justin Turner 2 (11)

 

The getaway day features morning baseball, a 9:35 on YouTube, with the weather permitting. Julio Urías starts for the Dodgers, facing Mitch Keller for Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

Game 1:

 

Dodgers vs Pirates
Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The difference between the Dodgers and Pirates is vast — their run differentials are the best and worst, respectively, in the majors — and that played out in Los Angeles’ 5-3 win in the series opener at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Tuesday night also featured the Dodgers taking advantage of most opportunities provided them by the home team and might have provided the winning margin.

Ke’Bryan Hayes provided the most obvious example, the one that will make highlight films. His home run in the first inning should have given Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead, but instead, he became the second notable Pirate to fail to touch first base in the last two weeks, albeit by only costing them one run it was the least egregious of the two misplays.

It was catcher Austin Barnes who first spotted that Hayes missed the bag.

“Austin and Clayton [Kershaw] were more down at the end of the dugout, so they had a better vantage point,” manager Dave Roberts explained. “Those guys — Austin, in particular — get credit for getting Chad Chop, the replay guy, on that one. That was a big play.”

Hayes singled in his next at-bat but then tried to tag up on a fly ball to AJ Pollock and was thrown out at second. It was a rough night on the bases for the otherwise excellent rookie.

JT Brubaker kept the Dodgers off the board until the fifth when Gavin Lux singled and advanced to third on an error by right fielder Gregory Polanco. Pollock doubled home Lux for the game’s first run, a ball that just eluded the glove of center fielder Bryan Reynolds.

With two outs in the frame, Mookie Betts drove a ball just out of the reach of Reynolds, bringing home Pollock with a triple, then scored on a single by Max Muncy. A few more inches on either play, and the inning might have ended with one Dodgers run instead of three.

At this point, what could have been a 1-1 game was instead 3-0 Dodgers.

On a day that the University of Virginia advanced to the super regionals, inching closer to the College World Series, former Cavalier Chris Taylor hit a two-run home run in the sixth, widening the Dodgers advantage.

“I woke up early and watch that one,” Taylor said of the college baseball game that started at 9 a.m. ET. “That was a big one for us. I’m proud of them.”

Walker Buehler didn’t need all that help, thanks to seven scoreless innings, retiring his first 13 batters faced. But calling his 93-pitch effort efficient doesn’t feel quite right, though maybe I’m underselling his night. He did allow only two singles and a walk, and even if Hayes got his home run, Buehler still would have given up only a run on three hits. That will play, even with a season-low two strikeouts.

When I was younger, I probably tried to throw every pitch as hard as I can for a long time. Being here for a little bit, I think getting deep into games and trying to save the bullpen and things like that are more important to me as a starting pitcher,” Buehler said. “I’m proud of that kind of stuff. I love the punch guys out, but seven innings is seven innings, and I’m happy that way.”

Buehler was working from behind more than usual on Tuesday, throwing first-pitch strikes to only 14 of his 24 batters faced (58.3 percent). That’s not bad, but it’s unusual for Buehler, who entered Tuesday throwing 67.4 percent of his first pitches for strikes, the 12th-highest in the majors.

The difference between 1-0 and 0-1 is stark. After a first-pitch ball, MLB batters are hitting .247/.375/.428 this season, compared to .208/.254/.337 after a first-pitch strike. But the Pirates were 0-for-10 after getting ahead 1-0 against Buehler on Tuesday, though the first of those “outs” was the Hayes home run that wasn’t.

“I thought this was one of his better outings of the year,” Roberts said. “He used his entire mix as well as he has all year. The bottom line, the goal, is to get as many outs as you can, and be efficient in doing it.”

The cushion provided by and for Buehler was very much needed, with the Pirates chipping away at a 5-0 deficit late. Joe Kelly allowed a run in the eighth, and Nate Jones allowed two solo home runs in the ninth, necessitating the use of closer Kenley Jansen in a game he shouldn’t have been pitching in.

Those little advantages the Dodgers gained early proved very much needed.

 

Game 1 Boxscore:

 

WP: Walker Buehler (5-0)

LP: JT Brubaker (4-5)

SV: Kenley Jansen (13)

HR: Chris Taylor (8), Bryan Reynolds (9), Michael Perez (4)

 

 

Tony Gonsolin will be activated from the injured list on Wednesday to make his season debut, with left-hander Tyler Anderson starting for the Pirates. The first pitch is at 4:05 and can be seen on SportsNet LA.

 

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– Joe Arrigo

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