The Los Angeles Dodgers are finally starting to shine. Starting pitching is starting to get in synch with the bullpen. Offensive power is starting to flourish for the Dodgers. What’s the reason for this? Part of the answer is because of Justin Turner. Since rejoining the Dodgers on Tuesday of last week, the Dodgers are 4-2 in their last six games. Those four wins all coming in a row. In addition to the four game win streak, the Dodgers have scored twenty-two runs in that span.
The Dodgers overcame a tough Washington pitching staff and lineup this weekend. As I said in my most recent post, the Dodgers had to face Max Scherzer. Major League Baseball might as well hand Scherzer the Cy Young Award for the third consecutive season. He is lights out and in a world of his own right now. However, he’s never the same dominant pitcher when he faces the Dodgers. He is, but he isn’t. Scherzer will still rack up double digit strikeouts against the Dodgers, but he only lasts five or six innings and gets charged with a couple of runs.
Scherzer was the scheduled pitcher for Friday night’s game in DC but the weather prevented that from happening. He was set to face Ross Stripling, the fill in starter who has been doing an alright job so far. Since the game was postponed Friday night, a doubleheader was played on Saturday. The first game would feature, Tanner Roark VS Ross Stripling. The second game was supposed to be a marquee matchup between Rich Hill and Max Scherzer but Hill got injured before he could record an out. On to the first game.
The first game of the Saturday doubleheader was a more even matchup for the fans. Nobody wanted to see Stripling take on Scherzer, nobody. So instead, Dave Roberts had Stripling take on Tanner Roark. The Dodgers quickly got on the board in the top of the first inning with a Sacrifice Fly from Yasmani Grandal. This was set up by a leadoff triple from Joc Pederson. At the end of the inning, the Dodgers were still leading 1-0. Stripling held the Nationals scoreless until the third inning when Bryce Harper singled to center field to drive in Wilmer Difo.
A couple of innings passed with the score still tied and the struggling Cody Bellinger came up to the plate. With a runner on third base, Bellinger grounded into a force out. Logan Forsythe scored as Joc Pederson was tagged out at second base. Bellinger was safe at first base. The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead to the sixth inning.
During the sixth inning, the hot hitting Max Muncy doubled, scoring Yasmani Grandal. I have to say, Muncy is performing very well and getting some very key hits. It will be interesting to see how Dave Roberts will continue to keep him in the lineup. At the end of the sixth inning the Dodgers were leading 3-1. Muncy delivered again in the top of the eighth inning. This time it was via Sacrifice Fly but he still got a runner home and that’s what matters. The Dodgers would go on to win Game 1 of the doubleheader, 4-1.
I forgot to mention how well Ross Stripling pitched during Game 1. Stripling had one of the best games of his career as he went six innings and struck out a career-high NINE batters. Still not impressed? He struck out Trea Turner, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon TWICE a piece. He also did all of that while only allowing the only run the Nationals would score during the first game. Ross Stripling picked up his first win of the season.
The second game of the day was a real nail biter towards the end of the game. Like I said, Max Scherzer was pitching against Rich Hill, so you knew it was either going to be a close game (depending on which Rich Hill showed up) or it was going to be a one sided affair. Well, the game didn’t go as planned for the Dodgers. After throwing TWO pitches and not recording a single out, Rich Hill was taken out of the game. Hill aggravated the blister that gave him trouble just a few weeks ago. In response to Hill being taken out of the game, he was placed on the Disabled List and will miss four weeks. So, now the game fell on the shoulders of the Dodgers bullpen.
For the second straight game, Joc Pederson led off the game with an extra base hit, this time it was a double off of Scherzer. Immediately following Pederson was Max Muncy who singled to bring Pederson home. The Dodgers quickly took a 1-0 lead off Scherzer. Then Scherzer said, “Watch this.” and struck out Yasmani Grandal, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor. Nonetheless, the Dodgers were on the board first.
After Rich Hill was removed from the game, lefty Scott Alexander came into the game and struck out Trea Turner, Wilmer Difo and Bryce Harper. Then the game was quiet for the most part. Neither the Dodgers or the Nationals scored until the fifth inning. In the fifth inning, Max Muncy hit a towering Solo Home Run off Scherzer to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Muncy’s Solo Home Run was his fourth of the season.
The bottom of the sixth inning is where this game really got out of hand. The Dodgers 26th man for the doubleheader was reliever, Yimi Garcia. Garcia came into the game and gave up a double to the speedy Trea Turner. Then got Wilmer Difo to ground out. After that, Dave Roberts called on Tony Cingrani who had just come off the Disabled List. Immediately after coming into the game, Cingrani hit Harper with a pitch in the back. The pitch wasn’t intentional, it was a curveball that slipped right out of Cingrani’s hand. Following Harper, Anthony Rendon popped out for the second out of the inning. Then Mark Reynolds came up and doubled to score Trea Turner. Washington cut their deficit to just one run now. Michael A. Taylor was intentionally walked to load the bases and now Daniel Hudson came into the game. Hudson came in to face Matt Adams who singled to score Bryce Harper and Mark Reynolds. Washington took the lead. Right after that, Max Scherzer singled to score Michael A. Taylor. The Nationals would score four runs in the sixth inning to take 4-2 lead over the Dodgers.
Max Scherzer remained in the game until the eighth inning when Sammy Solis came in to pitch. He got Grandal to fly out to start the inning. Cody Bellinger came up to the plate trying anything he could to snap his 0 for 7 streak he had on Saturday. Bellinger did it in grand fashion by crushing a Solo Home Run to straight away center field. The Dodgers were only down by one run at this point.
In their last hurrah, the Dodgers needed to score at least once in order to keep the game going and have a chance at winning. The ninth inning started with an Austin Barnes single. After that, Logan Forsythe singled on a blooper. Then, Matt Kemp is his superstar ‘check me out’ ways, doubled to drive in Austin Barnes and Logan Forsythe! Matt Kemp came into the game and came up clutch in a key moment. The Dodgers took their 5-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning and gave Kenley Jansen the ball. Jansen got Adrian Sanchez to flyout, Stevenson to ground out and finally struck out Trea Turner to end the game. Jansen got his eighth save of the season and it seems like he has finally figured it all out.
The last game of the series against Washington was started by Alex Wood. Wood was making his tenth start of the season and was still winless. Fortunately for Alex Wood, the offense decided to unload on Stephen Strasburg. Yasmani Grandal got the scoring started in the top of the second inning when he hit his eighth Home Run of the year. The Nationals would get that run back in the bottom of the third though. Trea Turner hit a 2-Run Home Run off of Alex Wood to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead.
During the game, the Dodgers snapped a Solo Home Run streak. Los Angeles hadn’t hit a multi run Home Run since May 1st. Fourteen Solo Home Runs had been hit until Kiké Hernandez came up to bat in the top of the fifth. Kiké hit a 2-Run Home Run to Left Field, scoring with him was Logan Forsythe. As I said, this Home Run snapped the streak of Solo Home Runs. As the title of this piece suggests, Yasiel Puig hit his fourth Home Run of the season in the top of the eighth inning, also a 2-Run Home Run that extended the Dodgers lead to 5-2. In the last inning of the game, the Dodgers decided to score some more. Joc Pederson doubled to score Kiké Hernandez. A couple batters later, Cody Bellinger grounded out but scored Joc Pederson from third. The Dodgers would win the game 7-2 and sweep the series against Washington.
Now the Dodgers return to Los Angeles to face the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies are only a half game back from being in first place and thanks to the Diamondbacks terrible weekend mixed with the Dodgers win streak, the Dodgers are only five games back of first. I’m predicting the Dodgers win two of the three games and move up to third place in the division. Walker Buehler takes the hill tonight and will try to get past his last start in which he gave up four runs. Hopefully the bats can stay hot tonight and hit a few more Home Runs!