As impressive starts go, it was not even in the vicinity. The Dodgers picked up four new pitchers at the July 31 trade deadline, and after two weeks the two starters and two relievers had combined to go 0-5 with a 12.08 ERA.
Then Alex Wood, one of the two additions to the rotation, took to the mound Friday against the Reds in just his third start with the Dodgers and first at home.
Think he was feeling just a bit of pressure to justify that 13-player trade?
“I don’t think so,” Wood said. “For me – and I can probably speak for the rest of the guys, too – the expectations are high wherever you go.
“If you want to stay here and be a part of something – especially something like this that we have going here in L.A. – you have to come in and perform, and do what you need to do. Not just to be a contributor and make a trade good or bad, but to stay here and be a part of it. Everybody in this clubhouse wants to win and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”
Wood pitched his best game Friday, which is not to say he dominated the Reds or looked like that No. 3 pitcher they could use. But he was effective, at least pitching into the seventh and leading the Dodgers to a 5-3 victory.
Joey Votto drove in all three runs, one with a double in the first inning and two more with a home run in the sixth.
“I thought the only two mental mistakes I made were both to him,” Wood said. “Probably the wrong guy to make them to. A changeup away with two strikes in the first inning he put a good swing on. And then a fastball that crept back over. I tried to go in and probably should have gone somewhere else there.”
But nobody else on the Reds really gave him much trouble. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing the three runs on five hits and three walks. It didn’t scream future superstar, but it whispered potential.
And if it eased ever so much the pressure on the four to try to justify the trade – Jim Johnson, who came with Wood from Atlanta in the trade, also got out both of his batters – that was apparently just some unplanned byproduct.
“The biggest thing for me is the whole winning aspect,” Wood said. “It gives me some confidence to get the first win under my belt for these guys. I thought tonight overall was probably the best I’ve thrown of the three so far. That’s all I look for.
“I want to earn the respect of these guys. Obviously I’ve pitched against them for the last two years, but it’s different when you come in and join a new team, a new clubhouse, new guys. I’m definitely trying my hardest to earn their respect all over again. Hopefully tonight is a good start in that direction.”