Dodgers manager Dave Roberts let Kenta Maeda go home Friday night before the team’s 13-inning record-setting marathon loss at Dodger Stadium finally ended. There wasn’t any use in Maeda witnessing a game bleed into the wee hours. Maeda’s job was to make sure the shenanigans didn’t cost the Dodgers another game Saturday.
The interminable loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks made a deep outing from Maeda more crucial than usual for the Dodgers. Roberts said the club had six of its eight relievers available Saturday, but five of those six had pitched Friday. Another long night for the bullpen would hamstring the Dodgers on Sunday when Walker Buehler is scheduled to make his season debut after a limited spring training.
The beginning was ominous, but Maeda supplied the performance the Dodgers needed to avoid proceeding with an exhausted bullpen three days into the season as they continued their bizarre start to the season with an eventful 18-5 win Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
Maeda gave up three runs — all on solo homers — in 6 2/3 innings as the Dodgers’ offense left the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff in shambles two days after Los Angeles slugged eight home runs and a night after Arizona used six of their seven relievers to survive Friday.
“Kenta set the tone,” Roberts said. “We needed length today. Tried to get him through that seventh inning, but he was really in control all night long.”
The Dodgers scored 11 runs off right-handers Zack Godley and Matt Koch in six innings before Arizona manager Torey Lovullo decided to punt on the game trailing 11-3. Lovullo put John Ryan Murphy, one of the Diamondbacks’ three catchers, in the game to pitch in the seventh inning.
Murphy’s arsenal was limited to one pitch. It sat between 55 and 65 mph. Somehow, he escaped the seventh inning unscathed with the bases loaded. The luck eroded in the eighth and the Dodgers collected seven runs to bust the game wide open.
Cody Bellinger hit two home runs, Joc Pederson slugged his third of the season and Austin Barnes cracked his second. The Dodgers have recorded 13 home runs and 21 walks through three games.
“Yesterday we didn’t have that much success, but I think everyone is just so confident before the game,” Bellinger said. “And we’re just taking that into the game and trusting it and we’re seeing results right now.”
The result became lopsided enough for the Dodgers to counter Murphy with a pitching appearance from Russell Martin in the ninth. The catcher’s cameo was efficient. He needed only 10 pitches to retire the Diamondbacks in order, getting Murphy to fly out to center to end the game.
“It would’ve been really, really tough to blow that lead,” Martin noted.
Effects from the previous night’s — and early morning’s — marathon bled into Saturday before the game began.
After the 6-hour 5-minute loss, the longest regular-season game in Dodger Stadium history, the Dodgers didn’t conduct batting practice on the field. Roberts said he contemplated sitting Corey Seager but decided to stick to his original plan of giving him Sunday afternoon’s series finale off after speaking with the shortstop. Justin Turner also won’t start Sunday.
But there was a change to the umpiring crew. Scott Barry was replaced for the remainder of the series after taking a 93-mph fastball from Diamondbacks right-hander Matt Andriese off the mask in the 10th inning Friday. Barry left the game before the start of the 12th inning. Bill Welke took Barry’s place as the third base umpire Saturday.
The night began with Diamondbacks center fielder Jarrod Dyson smacking a leadoff home run off Maeda. It was the light-hitting Dyson’s first career leadoff homer. He entered the game with 14 career home runs in 2,173 plate appearances.
Pederson supplied the Dodgers’ quick response with an opposite-field homer to lead off the bottom of the first. It was his third home run in 11 plate appearances to begin the season and 12th career leadoff home run.
The Dodgers opted for another strategy in the third inning against Godley. Consecutive run-scoring singles from Turner, Bellinger and A.J. Pollock supplied four runs. Two innings later, Bellinger hit a 3-1 curveball to the visitors’ bullpen.
Before departing, Maeda dealt the Diamondbacks a blow with the bat too, lofting a pitch to shallow left field that David Peralta misplayed in the sixth inning. The ball bounced in front of Peralta and past him. It went down as a double and prompted Godley’s exit. The Dodgers did not stop when Koch entered. They batted around and scored five runs in the inning, boosted by three hit-by-pitches.
Maeda then returned to secure two outs in the seventh before walking off the mound to an appreciative roar.
“He gave us exactly what we needed,” Roberts said.