Despite six hits by Chase Utley, Dodgers fall to Orioles, 6-4, in 14 innings
Trayce Thompson took flight across the outfield grass, his 6-foot-3 frame outstretched in an attempt to extend a game that could have ended hours before. Earlier in the day, he had smashed his bat and his glove in a fit of pique at the plate. Now he sacrificed his body in the 14th inning of a five-hour game.
The sinking line drive bounced in front of Thompson as he hit the ground. The ball represented a two-run double from Baltimore second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who broke an endless deadlock by taking advantage of Dodgers reliever Chris Hatcher in a 6-4 Dodgers defeat. Both clubs had flailed in vain for this moment. Only one prevailed.
“They got the big hit,” Justin Turner said. “We didn’t. We had plenty of opportunities.”
Indeed, in missing a chance for a series victory over the leaders of the American League East, the Dodgers stranded 16 runners and managed only one hit in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position. The lineup combined to strike out 18 times, a feat matched by the Orioles, which only deepened the day’s bitterness. The team could not capitalize on an admirable effort from an eight-man relief crew.
The frustration for Manager Dave Roberts boiled over in the bottom of the last inning. He shouted at umpire Pat Hoberg over a strike call against Howie Kendrick. Hoberg reacted with an ejection.
“There were some pitches that were questionable,” Roberts said. “But that’s baseball. We had some opportunities.”
Opportunities: The word came up often in the Dodgers clubhouse after the loss. The final few frames were agonizing for the group, which also wasted a six-hit day from leadoff hitter Chase Utley. Corey Seager extended his hitting streak to 19 games, but watched, helpless, from the bases as chances were frittered away in the seventh and the eighth.
“Our pitches threw up zeros from the sixth on,” Seager said. “We’ve got to reward them for that, and unfortunately, we couldn’t.”
Facing reliever Dylan Bundy in the seventh, Utley singled and advanced to third on a double by Seager. Bundy struck out Turner, intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez, then struck out both Thompson and Kendrick to escape. The Dodgers felt Kendrick deserved a walk, frustrated by a 3-and-2 fastball that looked inside.
In the eighth, the composition of the Dodgers roster proved onerous. Roberts has only four players on his bench. He had already used three of them, and felt he needed to save utility man Chris Taylor for pinch-hitting duty. So he sent Kenta Maeda in as a pinch-runner after A.J. Ellis walked. Maeda held at third base when Utley socked a double into the right-field corner off All-Star reliever Brad Brach.
“In that situation, you can’t use all your players, at that point in time,” Roberts said.
Brach intentionally walked Seager. The bases were loaded for Turner. Brach fed him a 2-and-0 fastball at the waist. Turner popped it up. Three innings later, after a single by Utley and another single by Turner, Gonzalez grounded into a double play.
In extra innings, the team managed to load the bases again. Except Hatcher was forced to bat. Roberts had no other options. Hatcher grounded out to end the game.
“This is definitely not a turnkey game today,” Roberts said. “There’s definitely a lot of stress in there for everyone.”
Turner woke up the crowd with a two-run homer in the first. He was involved in a less tidy play in the next inning. A popup by outfielder Mark Trumbo rose above shallow left field. Both Seager and Turner squinted through the sun. Turner pulled off to give Seager room. At the last second, Seager crouched in the grass as the ball fell behind him.
The miscommunication led to a run after a double by infielder Ryan Flaherty. The Orioles tied the score in the third, and Trumbo would strike the ball with more force in his next two at-bats.
Trumbo powered a 94-mph fastball from starter Bud Norris over the right-field fence in the fourth. Norris expended himself on an 11-pitch at-bat against Kevin Gausman in the fourth, and completed only five innings.
“The bullpen really did a great job picking me up, keeping us in that ballgame,” Norris said.
The seesaw tipped back into the Dodgers’ favor in the fifth when Gonzalez hit a two-run single. Baltimore tied the score in brutal fashion when Trumbo walloped another homer, this one off Casey Fien, in the sixth.
Roberts emptied his bullpen as the afternoon stretched into the early evening. He did not intend to use Hatcher, who had pitched the previous night. But he did, and Hatcher could not put up a scoreless inning. The offense only teased him in the bottom of the frame.
“Somehow, we still had a chance to win in the ninth,” Roberts said, before he caught himself and managed a smile. “Or the 14th.”
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