Amid October pitching questions, Dodgers find ‘right lanes’ in win over Cardinals
It was a straightforward game conducted with a straightforward pitching plan.
Leading after six strong innings from Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers looked just fine with a designated closer Saturday night, getting three scoreless innings out of their reshuffled bullpen to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 at Dodger Stadium.
In their first game protecting a lead since demoting Craig Kimbrel from the closer role, the Dodgers trotted out the kind of bullpen plan that could be repeated in October.
Chris Martin, a key trade deadline acquisition who is surging, retired the side in order in the seventh.
Final: Dodgers hold off Cardinals in 6-2 win
After one of their worst weeks of the season, the Dodgers bounced back with a straightforward 6-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
Will Smith, Trayce Thompson and Miguel Vargas hit early home runs.
Clayton Kershaw gave up just two runs in six innings.
And down the stretch, in their first game protecting a lead since demoting Craig Kimbrel from the closer role, the Dodgers got scoreless innings from Chris Martin in the seventh, Evan Phillips in the eighth (against the heart of the Cardinals order) and Tommy Kahnle in the ninth.
The Dodgers are now 105-47.
Final: Dodgers 6, Cardinals 2
Nolan Arenado homers, but Clayton Kershaw completes six inning start
Clayton Kershaw didn’t have a scoreless start, after Nolan Arenado hit a two-run homer in the sixth.
But the left-hander did limit the damage there, posting another strong six-inning, two-run start that left his ERA at 2.42.
The Dodgers will now try to protect a lead without knowing they have Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.
The first reliever out of the ‘pen: Right-hander Chris Martin.
End 6th: Dodgers lead 6-2
Dodgers extend lead on RBIs from Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts
After scoring only six runs in their last four games, the Dodgers have six runs in four innings tonight.
In the fourth inning, Trayce Thompson drew a leadoff walk before Cody Bellinger (double) and Mookie Betts (single) each drove in a run with two outs.
For Bellinger, it marked a second-straight start in which he’s doubled, the first time he’s done that since Aug. 5-6.
End 4th: Dodgers lead 6-0
Miguel Vargas hits first career home run to give Dodgers early cushion
Miguel Vargas’ first extended MLB stint hasn’t started as hoped, with the rookie entering tonight batting just .171 with one extra-base hit in 11 games.
In his first at-bat, however, the highly-touted prospect got an inside fastball from Jordan Montgomery and sent it sailing out to left for his first career MLB home run.
Vargas had a big smile as he rounded the bases, received a hug from Mookie Betts near the on-deck circle, then was greeted with high fives back in the dugout.
End 2nd: Dodgers lead 4-0
Dodgers opening scoring on Will Smith, Trayce Thompson home runs
The Dodgers don’t have their normal No. 3 hitter tonight in Freddie Freeman.
But in his first at-bat, Will Smith filled in just fine.
With two outs in the bottom of the first, Smith launched a solo home run to left to open the scoring. It was his 23rd of the season, two shy of the career-high mark he set last year, and good for second-most among all catchers in baseball, behind only Cal Raleigh of the Seattle Mariners.
It wouldn’t take long for the Dodgers to add to the lead.
In the bottom of the second, Trayce Thompson also took Cardinals starter Jordan Montgomery deep, hitting his 12th home run of the season and third against a left-hander.
Bottom 2nd: Dodgers lead 2-0
Freddie Freeman scratched from Dodgers lineup with ‘illness’
For the first time this year, Freddie Freeman will miss consecutive games for the Dodgers, after the first baseman was scratched from Saturday’s game with what manager Dave Roberts said was a mild illness.
Roberts said it’s possible Freeman could come off the bench later in Saturday’s game, and expected the All-Star to be back in the lineup as soon as Sunday.
In his place, Miguel Vargas was at first base.
On the mound, Clayton Kershaw (9-3, 2.39 ERA) will face off against Jordan Montgomery (8-5, 3.26 ERA).
Dustin May heads to injured list in latest pitching setback for Dodgers
The Dodgers pitching staff has been dealt another major uncertainty as October nears.
Before Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, right-hander Dustin May was put on the 15-day injured list with low back tightness, a move that will prevent him from pitching in the regular season again and brings his postseason availability into question.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, May has a muscle strain in his back. Because he has to spend at least 15 days on the injured list, he won’t be eligible to return in the regular season (the Dodgers’ final game is Oct. 5).
Dodgers react to Albert Pujols’ historic 700th home run with blend of awe and anger
Until Albert Pujols crushed a fastball by Andrew Heaney for home run No. 699 of his career in the third inning Friday, the Dodgers felt nothing but affection for their former teammate.
“Tio! We love you and we’ll see you soon, especially on the golf course,” said Justin Turner during a Dodger Stadium video tribute to Pujols before the game.
Until Pujols crushed a slider by Phil Bickford for home run No. 700 in the fourth inning of an 11-0 St. Louis Cardinals victory, the Dodgers were captivated by his unfathomable chase to join Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in perhaps the most exclusive club in baseball history.
“You are an incredible human being off the field,” gushed Max Muncy during the same tribute before joining Turner in giving Pujols and Yadier Molina shiny new golf bags in a pregame ceremony.
‘It’s pretty special.’ Albert Pujols reflects on joining elite company in 700 homers club
The Mt. Rushmore of major league sluggers gained a fourth chiseled face — this one with a dark, tightly cropped beard, a seemingly permanent scowl and a gold chain around its neck — when Albert Pujols clubbed the 700th home run of his Hall-of-Fame career during the Cardinals’ 11-0 win in Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
The burly St. Louis Cardinals star, who spent most of the past decade with the Angels, sent his milestone blast to left field in the fourth inning against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford to join Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) as the only players in major league history to hit 700 home runs.
“It’s pretty special,” Pujols said of joining the 700 Club. “When it’s really gonna hit me is when I’m done at end of season and I’m retired, and a month or two after that I can look at numbers.
“Don’t get me wrong, I know where I stand in the game, but since day one, it was never about the numbers. It was always about winning championships and getting better in this game.”
With Craig Kimbrel demoted, who will be next Dodgers closer?
The Dodgers finally ripped off the Band-Aid, but they still have to treat the festering wound underneath.
After a season of ups and (mostly) downs, former superstar closer Craig Kimbrel was removed from the role on Friday, with manager Dave Roberts announcing a move that had felt inevitable with the veteran right-hander sporting a 4.07 ERA and only 22 saves in 27 opportunities.
Who replaces Kimbrel has suddenly become among the biggest questions facing the Dodgers, with ninth-inning uncertainty vaulting to the top of their postseason checklist.
For now, Roberts said it will be a closer-by-committee situation. Each night, save opportunities will be dictated by matchups and game flow.
How to watch and stream the Dodgers this season
Here’s a look at the Dodgers broadcast and streaming schedule for the remainder of the 2022 regular season: