Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig help Dodgers deliver win in Dennis Santana’s pitching debut at Colorado
Enrique Hernandez sprawled on the floor of the visitor’s clubhouse at Coors Field. “I’ve never been so tired in my life,” he said minutes after an 11-8 Dodgers victory over the Rockies.
Across the room, Kenley Jansen beamed after his first four-out save of the season. He gave up a run. He did not care. “What can I say?” he said. “It comes with Colorado.”
A few lockers down, Dennis Santana held up a baseball for a photo to commemorate his big league debut. It was an eventful one: He pitched 32/3 innings, gave up five runs, drove in two with a double and collected his first major league win. “It was a great experience,” Santana said through his interpreter, Jesus Quinonez. “I thank my team also for helping me get my first win.”
Games at Coors Field have a tendency to exhaust the body and stretch the limits of credulity. The game here on Friday fit the bill. The Dodgers (27-30) started a reliever. Santana won despite getting blitzed after entering in the second inning. Chris Taylor drove in four runs, three on a go-ahead homer in the sixth. Yasiel Puig matched a career-high with four hits, including a two-run homer in the ninth.
The Dodgers designated this as a bullpen game. At this park, what is the difference?
“Bullpen day, Coors Field, certainly redundant,” manager Dave Roberts said.
The Dodgers were forced into this pitching predicament by the infirmity of their starting rotation. Alex Wood required an extra day of rest to protect against the leg cramps that have bothered him. The team could have used Santana as the starter. Instead, they chose Alexander, hoping he could erase the three hitters at the top of Colorado’s lineup to shorten the game.
The Dodgers staked Alexander a two-run lead after a leadoff triple by Taylor, a sacrifice fly by Justin Turner and a solo homer from Matt Kemp. Alexander handed back a run by permitting a two-out triple to Carlos Gonzalez. After securing an out in the second inning, Alexander passed the baton to Santana.
The transfer was not smooth. Santana fired his first pitch to the backstop. He gave up a two-out double to catcher Chris Iannetta and hit opposing starter Tyler Anderson with a fastball. Colorado second baseman D.J. LeMahieu tied it with a single. The Dodgers fell behind when Charlie Blackmon stroked a two-run triple into the endless expanse of grass down the right-field line.
These are the breaks at Coors Field. Santana experienced the flip side of the coin in the fourth, in the first at-bat of his career. With the bases loaded, Santana whacked a double off the left-field wall to drive in two runs. A sacrifice fly from Taylor gave the Dodgers the lead, although Santana gave up a tying single to LeMahieu in the bottom of the inning.
Taylor put the Dodgers back in front in the sixth. Puig added some insurance in the ninth. It was enough to escape.
“It’s long games, for sure,” Taylor said. “It’s one of those things where after nine innings, you’re exhausted.”
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