The Dodgers were a lot of things last year on the way to 94 wins, but comeback kids they were not. When trailing after six innings, they went 2-54. When trailing after eight innings, they were 0-56.
Eight games into the new season and it’s shaping up as a very different year.
The Dodgers rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday, beating the Mariners and closer Fernando Rodney, 6-5, on a two-run single by Howe Kendrick before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 43,115.
The Dodgers are now 1-1 (corrected) in games they trailed after eight innings.
Justin Turner started the rally in the ninth with a basehit and then was singled to third by Jimmy Rollins. When Carl Crawford hit a sharp bouncer to third baseman Kyle Seager, Turner mistakenly broke for home and was caught in an easy rundown.
Rodney then walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases and Kendrick delivered the game-winning hit.
The game had not started so promisingly for the Dodgers. Rotation depth has been a humongous uncertainty for them since before camp even opened. Then in spring training Hyun-Jin Ryu went down with a sore shoulder and opened the season on the disabled list.
They were able to avoid his turn until Tuesday, but when it came around the initial results were not favorable. David Huff got the call, struggled in the first and lasted four innings. He opened the game with a Brandon McCarthy imitation. That would be the McCarthy who leads baseball in home runs allowed, not in strikeouts.
Huff gave up a single in the first and then a two-run homer to Robinson Cano. It was the first of the season for Cano, who started the night hitting .138 with one RBI. That was followed by a solo shot by Nelson Cruz, also his third in two games against the Dodgers. The Boys in Blue had yet to bat and they were down 3-0.
The Dodgers got one run back in the third against right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma on doubles by Rollins and Gonzalez, but the Mariners went back up by three with a run in the fourth after Huff hit Willie Bloomquist with a pitch.
Iwakuma bunted back to Huff, who looked at going to second and probably had a play, but instead threw to first for the sacrifice. When Rickie Weeks singled, it scored Bloomquist from second.
The Dodgers came back with two of their own in the bottom of the inning after Joc Pederson drew a two-out walk. The Dodgers had Alex Guerrero, who surrendered third back to Juan Uribe, pinch hit for Huff. That worked rather nicely when Guerrero hammered the first pitch he saw into the left-field pavilion for a two-run homer.
Huff, 30, ended up throwing 68 pitches in his four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk, with two strikeouts. With off-days Thursday and Monday, the Dodgers do not need a fifth starter again until April 25. Huff is out of options, so they would have to willing to lose him if they elect to call back a position player.
They could not call up one of their young starters who had been optioned until after 10 games, so by the time Ryu’s spot comes up again, they could call up Joe Wieland or Mike Bolsinger.
The Mariners went back up by two runs Tuesday in the fifth when Juan Nicasio took over for Huff and had immediate control problems. He walked his first two batters, and after striking out Mike Zunino and walked light-hitting Brad Miller to load the bases. When Bloomquist hit a slow bouncer to Rollins at shortstop, his only play was to throw out Bloomquist as the run scored.
That looked a decisive run when Andre Ethier led off the sixth with his first home run of the season to pull the Dodgers within a run at 5-4. That also ended the night for Iwakuma, who allowed four runs on six hits and three walks in his five-plus innings.
But the Dodgers had a rally left in the ninth, and a very different look to their early season.
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