Will Smith’s hit, Tyler Anderson’s block help Dodgers win fifth straight
Most comebacks begin when a runner crosses the plate.
On Friday night, the Dodgers’ late-game rally against the Chicago Cubs was sparked after their pitcher blocked it.
Once down by three runs, the Dodgers completed a 4-3 victory in walk-off fashion in front of 44,158 at Chavez Ravine, winning their fifth consecutive game on Will Smith’s RBI single in the bottom of the 10th.
And if not for Tyler Anderson’s block of home plate roughly an hour earlier, when he absorbed a lowered shoulder from Cubs baserunner Ian Happ, it might never have happened.
Final: Dodgers beat Cubs 4-3 on Will Smith’s walk-off single
For the second time on this homestand, the Dodgers have won on a walk off.
After a crucial two-out scoop by Freddie Freeman at first base kept the Cubs off the board in the top half of the inning, Will Smith ended the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th.
The Dodgers are now 54-29.
Final: Dodgers 4, Cubs 3
Dodgers force extras after tying the score in the ninth
The Dodgers have erased their three-run deficit.
Facing Cubs closer David Robertson in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Dodgers’ lineup manufactured a run, getting the bases loaded with one out before Mookie Betts hit a game-tying sacrifice fly to left field.
Betts’ ball initially looked like it had a chance to get out of the park, but it ultimately died at the warning track.
Trea Turner had the opportunity to walk it off in the next at-bat, but he lined out to center to end the inning.
End 9th: Tied 3-3
Dodgers within one after Jake Lamb home run
The Dodgers are back within one after Jake Lamb hit his first home run as a member of the team in the seventh inning, a solo blast to left that cut the deficit to 3-2.
The Dodgers had the tying run 90 feet away later in the inning, after a triple from Gavin Lux. But Mookie Betts grounded out to retire the side.
Tyler Anderson’s night is also done after seven innings. He gave up three runs, struck out four batters and now has a 3.15 ERA this season.
End 7th: Cubs lead 3-2
Dodgers get one run thanks to dropped ball but still trail
The Dodgers are on the board, though they really have Seiya Suzuki to thank.
After Freddie Freeman hit a hustle double with two outs in the sixth, Will Smith’s fly ball to right field was dropped by Suzuki, who couldn’t haul in the ball near the foul line.
Freeman scored and Smith reached second, though the Dodgers couldn’t capitalize further, with Max Muncy striking out to end the inning.
End 6th: Cubs lead 3-1
Cubs extend lead, then Ian Happ tries trucking Tyler Anderson at plate
After giving up a couple of runs on an Ian Happ two-RBI double in the sixth inning, Tyler Anderson had to act like a catcher to keep the Dodgers’ deficit at three.
An old-school catcher at that.
With Happ at third, Anderson fielded a ground ball to catch the Cubs baserunner in a rundown between third base and home.
Anderson, covering for catcher Will Smith after he had run up the base line earlier in the pickle, caught the ball in front of the plate with Happ still several steps away.
Despite having little chance at scoring, Happ lowered his shoulder and drove into Anderson’s midsection anyway, reminiscent of the way baserunners used to try to knock the ball out of catchers’ possessions.
Anderson held on for the out, then gave Happ a shove in the back as he tumbled to the ground. Anderson glared at Happ as he returned to the mound. Several Cubs players started shouting from the dugout — with some even taking a few steps onto the field — before umpires defused the situation.
Mid 6th: Cubs lead 3-0
Cubs open the scoring on Nico Hoerner’s home run
After four quiet innings, Nico Hoerner opened the scoring with one loud swing off Tyler Anderson.
The Cubs shortstop belted his fifth home run of the season to left, putting a charge into a hanging full-count changeup that just cleared the wall in left, bouncing off the top of the wall despite a leaping effort from Gavin Lux.
Mid 5th: Cubs lead 1-0
Tyler Anderson cruising, but game remains scoreless early on
For a moment, it looked as if Tyler Anderson — who has already pitched five perfect innings in one start this season and carried a no-hitter in the ninth inning of another — might be chasing history again.
Through three innings, he had retired the first nine Cubs batters in a row.
In the fourth, however, Patrick Wisdom gave the visitors their first hit, singling on a check swing that dribbled past a shifted infield.
Still, Anderson is through four scoreless innings on just 53 pitches.
The Dodgers’ offense has also yet to strike despite loading the bases with one out in the second.
Mid 4th: No score
Craig Kimbrel trying to find consistency with curveball; Brusdar Graterol avoids injury
Craig Kimbrel is still the Dodgers’ closer.
But the questions about his inconsistent form the llast two months continued to intensify Friday, a day after he failed to complete the ninth inning of a save opportunity because of a high pitch count.
“The inconsistencies, given who he is, I think we’re all surprised by that,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Kimbrel’s outing Thursday raised his season ERA to 4.82 and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) to 1.54, both of which are worst among any Dodgers pitcher with at least 10 appearances this season.
After starting his season with eight scoreless performances in his first nine outings, the right-hander has now given up at least one run in 11 of his last 21.
And while some of Kimbrel’s underlying numbers provide reason for optimism — including an expected ERA of 3.00, according to Baseball Savant, giving Kimbrel one of the largest differences among major league pitchers between his actual and expected marks — Roberts acknowledged that the team and its new closer are trying “to get on the same page and right the ship.”
Roberts pinpointed Kimbrel’s command of the curveball as his biggest problem of late.
A two-pitch pitcher throughout his career, Kimbrel had increasingly relied more on his curveball, and less on his upper-90s mph fastball, over recent seasons. Last year, he threw the curveball more than 40% of the time, a personal high.
This season, however, his usage and effectiveness with the pitch have nosedived. He is throwing it only 33.5% of the time now. It’s generating fewer outs and whiffs as well.
“The shape is different on almost every throw, and there’s a lot of non-competitive misses with the breaking ball,” Roberts said. “That will get your pitch count up and obviously get you into some counts that you don’t want to be in. So I think that’s something that we got to kind of work together to harness and figure out some consistency.”
Kimbrel almost abandoned the curveball completely Thursday night, instead throwing his fastball on 25 of 31 pitches.
The result: Several long at-bats against Cubs hitters, who were able to foul off the heater and, after a seven-pitch RBI double by Seiya Suzuki and a nine-pitch walk by Patrick Wilson, ultimately knock Kimbrel out of the game before he could get the final out.
“Our guys are on it right now and trying to figure out if it’s mechanical, if it’s intent of the shape,” Roberts said. “But the bottom line is that, that throw, that pitch has got to be more consistent.”
Graterol avoid injury
After leaving Thursday’s game early with a cramp in his side, Brusdar Graterol was feeling better Friday, according to Roberts, and won’t need to go on the injured list.
“[In] catch play, he was letting it rip,” Roberts said. “He’s in a good spot.”
Roberts said the team was giving Graterol the day off Friday but more because of recent usage than any injury concerns.
“As far as where he’s at physically, he’s great,” Roberts said.
Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout are MLB All-Star Game starters
It’s official. Mookie Betts and Trea Turner of the Dodgers and Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels are all headed to this year’s MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium as starters.
Trout received 39 percent in the second phase of fan voting among the four American League outfielders in the running for two starting spots. Betts secured his spot by earning 36 percent of votes among four National League outfielders. Ohtani pulled ahead of Yordan Álvarez in the race for the starting AL designated hitter through this week. Turner similarly edged Dansby Swanson to get the start at shortstop for the NL in the last few days. MLB announced the starters on Friday. The game will be played on July 19.
This marks Trout’s 10th All-Star nod, Betts’ sixth and Ohtani’s and Turner’s second.
Those four join a list of 18 total stars voted in, plus two special All-Star selections made by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Plaschke: With a Panama hat, cigar and radar gun, scout Mike Brito was a Dodger Stadium fixture
He was the white Panama hat. He was the radar gun. He was the cigar. He was the heartbeat behind home plate, constant, steady, always standing, always scouting, always there.
For years, Mike Brito was a Dodger Stadium landmark, as unique as a Dodger Dog, as solid as the San Gabriel Mountains, as comforting as a ninth-inning breeze.
You may not have known his name, but you couldn’t miss his presence, and a piece of Dodgers history will be forever lost without him.
Brito died Thursday at age 87 after a 44-year career as a Dodger scout who indelibly changed the organization by turning one uncomfortable night into an eternal legacy.
In 1978, the Dodgers sent Brito to the Mexican town of Silao to check out a hot-hitting shortstop in a Mexican rookie league. The night he arrived, it was Holy Week, and all the local hotels were booked. But Brito would not be deterred. He slept on four chairs in a bus station, painfully awoke the next day, hitched a ride to the field, and dutifully took notes on the shortstop.
In the same game, he also noticed a 17-year-old pitcher who struck out 12 hitters. The kid was amazing yet completely anonymous. Brito excitedly reported his findings to general manager Al Campanis, and a year later the Dodgers signed that oddly dazzling young lefty.