Dodgers’ eight-game win streak snapped in 5-2 loss to Astros
The atmosphere at Minute Maid Park for the Dodgers’ two-game series against the Houston Astros this week lived up to the hype. Dodgers fans, refusing to neglect the history between the clubs, poured into the ballpark, cleared for full capacity for the first time Tuesday, in blue to defend their team. Signs were made and chants were orchestrated to remind the Astros that their cheating tainted their 2017 World Series title.
On the field, the teams sensed a playoff environment. Tension escalated beyond typical late-May interleague games.
Unlike the Dodgers’ two-game visit last season, though, emotions didn’t spill over. Pitchers didn’t send hitters any 98-mph messages. The benches didn’t clear. In the end, Luis Garcia outpitched Trevor Bauer in the Astros’ 5-2 win Wednesday to split a series without any flared tempers.
The Dodgers (30-19) mustered just three hits — two off Garcia over six innings — and had their eight-game winning streak end. The Astros (27-22) snapped their four-game losing streak.
“We just couldn’t really put anything together,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Dodgers threaten in ninth but come up short in loss to Astros
Top of the ninth:
Bryan Abrue pitching. Justin Turner flies out to right. Will Smith grounds out to second. Gavin Lux walks. Chris Taylor walks on a 3-2 pitch. Albert Pujols strikes out on a 2-2 pitch.
Final: Astros 5, Dodgers 2
Sheldon Neuse’s homer brings Dodgers within 5-2
Top of the eighth:
Ryne Stanek replaces Brooks Raley. Yoshi Tsutsugo strikes out. Sheldon Neuse homers to left to make it 5-2. Mookie Betts flies out to right. Max Muncy grounds out to third baseman Alex Bregman, positioned near second base.
Bottom of the eighth:
Dennis Santana replaces Nate Jones on the mound. Yuli Gurriel is hit by a pitch. Carlos Correa singles to left. Taylor Jones hits in a double play. with Gurriel moving to third. Myles Straw singles on a bunt, with Gurriel holding at third. Martin Maldonado grounds out to short.
End of eighth: Astros 5, Dodgers 2
Astros score three more in seventh to take 5-1 lead
Top of the seventh:
Brooks Raley replaces Luis Garcia on the mound. Gavin Lux lines out to right field. Chris Taylor grounds out to short. Albert Pujols, pinch-hitting for Matt Beaty, strikes out.
Bottom of the seventh:
Nate Jones replaces Trevor Bauer on the mound. Pujols stays in the game at first. Myles Straw lines out to center field. Martin Maldonado reaches second base on a throwing error by Lux at short. Jose Altuve singles to the vacated hole at second. Catcher Will Smith can’t field Mookie Betts’ throw from right and Maldonado scores, with Altuve going to second. Aledyms Diaz homers to left to make it 5-1. Alex Bregman grounds out to short. Kyle Tucker pops up to third.
End of seventh: Astros 5, Dodgers 1
Carlos Correa’s home run gives Astros a 2-1 lead after six innings
Top of the sixth:
Max Muncy flies out to left field. Justin Turner flies out to right field. Will Smith lines out to shortstop Carlos Correa. Luis Garcia has retired 10 Dodgers in a row.
Bottom of the sixth:
Kyle Tucker flies out to deep right field, but Mookie Betts makes the catch. Yuli Gurriel beats to shift, by hitting a single to the vacated spot at second base. With Carlos Correa hitting, Gurriel to thrown out trying to steal, Will Smith to second baseman Max Muncy. Correa then breaks the tie with a home left to left. Taylor Jones pops up to Muncy at second.
End of sixth: Astros 2, Dodgers 1
Trevor Bauer has his most efficient inning: three outs on five pitches
Top of the fifth:
Yosi Tsutsugo strikes out, catcher Martin Maldonado making the putout to first baseman Yuli Gurriel. Sheldon Neuse strikes out on a 2-2 pitch. Mookie Betts flies out to left field. Luis Garcia is at 92 pitches.
Bottom of the fourth:
José Altuve pops up to shortstop Gavin Lux. Aledmys Diaz flies out to center fielder Chris Taylor. Alex Bregman grounds out to third baseman Sheldon Neuse. Trevor Bauer throws five pitches in the inning.
End of fifth: Dodgers 1, Astros 1
It’s still 1-1 between Dodgers and Astros after four innings
Top of the fourth:
Gavin Lux flies out to left field. Chris Taylor strikes out. Matt Beaty grounds out to third baseman Alex Bregman, who was positioned near second base in the shift.
Bottom of the fourth:
Carlos Correa grounds out to pitcher Trevor Bauer. Taylor Jones strikes out on a 1-2 pitch. Myles Straw singles to left on a 3-1 pitch. With Straw running, Martin Maldonado flies out to left fielder Yosi Tsutsugo. Bauer is at 79 pitches through four innings.
End of fourth: Dodgers 1, Astros 1
Dodgers tie the score on Max Muncy’s RBI single
Top of the third:
Matt Beaty strikes out on a 1-2 pitch. Yosi Tsutsugo singles to center on a 3-2 pitch. Sheldon Neuse strikes out on a 3-2 pitch. Pitcher Luis Garcia can’t field a ground ball by Mookie Betts, the error putting runners at first and second. Max Muncy singles to right, scoring Tsutsugo and moving Betts to second. Justin Turner walks on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Will Smith strikes out on a 1-2 pitch.
Bottom of the third:
Aledmys Diaz grounds out to Neuse at third base. Alex Bregman grounds out to Neuse, who makes a fine stop on the hard-hit ball. Kyle Tucker walks on a 3-1 pitch. It’s the fourth walk of the game for Trevor Bauer. On the first pitch to Yuli Gurriel, Tucker steals second. Gurriel flies out to shortstop Gavin Lux in shallow left.
End of third: Dodgers 1, Astros 1
No scoring in second inning. Astros maintain 1-0 lead
Top of the second:
Will Smith flies out to center field. Gavin Lux grounds out to second baseman José Altuve. Chris Taylor grounds out to third baseman Alex Bregman.
Bottom of the second:
Myles Straw flies out to center field. Martin Maldonado strikes out on a 2-2 pitch. Altuve grounds out to Lux at shortstop.
End of second: Astros 1, Dodgers 0
José Altuve takes Trevor Bauer deep leading off
Top of the first: Right-hander Luis Garcia pitching for the Astros.
Mookie Betts strikes out on a 1-2 pitch. Max Muncy flies out to center fielder Myles Straw. Justin Turner grounds out, third baseman Alex Bregman to first baseman Yuli Gurriel.
Bottom of the first: Right-hander Trevor Bauer pitching for the Dodgers.
José Altuve homers to left field on a 2-1 pitch. Aledmys Diaz flies out to right fielder Mookie Betts. Alex Bregman walks on a 3-2 pitch. Kyle Tucker walks on another 3-2 pitch. Yuli Gurriel flies out to Betts in right. Carlos Correa walks on a 3-1 pitch. Taylor Jones strikes out on a 3-2 pitch.
End of first: Astros 1, Dodgers 0
Mookie Betts: ‘I don’t have any excuses’ for offensive dropoff
HOUSTON – Mookie Betts has missed several games this season because of injuries. In early April, a lower back issue kept him out of the lineup for four straight games. He sat for a game in mid-April after getting hit in the forearm by a pitch. He missed two games during the weekend in San Francisco because of left shoulder soreness that had been bothering him for two weeks.
The setbacks have been constant. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he has to be “more mindful” of his star right fielder’s workload and estimated that Betts is playing at “80 to 85%.”
Betts agreed with his manager’s assessment, but he emphasized the ailments are not the reason for his relative struggles at the plate.
“I don’t have any excuses,” Betts said before the Dodgers played the Houston Astros on Wednesday. “Sometimes you just don’t play well. I’m not here to say this is why, this, that and the other.”
Betts entered Wednesday batting .253 with five home runs and a .810 on-plus-slugging percentage in 188 plate appearances.
He’s in the 25th percentile across the majors for barreled balls this season — he’s barreled 5.4% of pitches, down from 7.7% last season, 10.3% in 2019 and 14.1% in 2018, per Baseball Savant.
He’s hitting the ball to the opposite feel less than last year — 21.5% to 28% — and his weak contact percentage has almost doubled from 1.6% to 3.1%. His line drive percentage is down to 26.9% from 34.6% last year, when he finished second in the National League MVP voting to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.
“It’s not for a lack of effort,” Betts said. “I’m here early doing everything I can. I don’t have an answer for that.”
What is he working on?
“It’s kind of like a moving target right now,” Betts said. “Trying to take it in the air and then I start popping it up too much. And then I [try] to get it lower and I start hitting it on the ground too much. I don’t have an answer.”
Betts, 28, is in the first year of the 12-year, $365 million contract extension he signed last July before playing in a game for the Dodgers. He quickly lived up to the hype, finishing the regular season with a .292 batting average, 16 home runs and a .927 OPS before helping the Dodgers win their first World Series in 32 years.
He arrived from the Boston Red Sox with high expectations, which only heightened with the four-month performance. The lofty standard, consequently, means his season thus far — one in which he’s posted a 127 OPS+, meaning he’s been 27% better than the average major-league hitter — has been an individual disappointment.
“I’ve shown that I can play at those expectations and live up to them,” Betts said. “I’m not mad at it by any means. I don’t mind expectations. It doesn’t scare me at all. So, it’s just a matter of going out and living up to something that I feel like I can play at.”
Betts’ track record suggests he will find his footing. The Dodgers, winners of eight straight games entering Wednesday, can afford to wait. But to repeat as World Series champions, they’ll need the 2020 version of Mookie Betts atop their lineup.
Dodgers plan bullpen game for Thursday against Giants
The Dodgers host the Giants for a four-game series beginning Thursday and for the opener, Dave Roberts said the team would go with another bullpen game.
This will be the third time the Dodgers have planned to use multiple pitchers in a game since starter since Dustin May tore a ligament in his right arm on May 1.
Dodgers target Saturday as return date for Cody Bellinger
The Dodgers are targeting Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants as a return for Cody Bellinger, who has been out since April 6 because of hairline fracture of his left fibula, an injury the center fielder suffered when he was spiked on the left calf while legging out an infield single in an April 5 game at Oakland.
Bellinger, the 2019 National League most valuable player, played four games on a rehabilitation assignment for triple-A Oklahoma City this past week, notching three hits, two of them home runs, in 16 at-bats.
Manager Dave Roberts said Bellinger is traveling to the team’s training complex in Arizona to take live at-bats against pitchers, including rehabilitating reliever Brusdar Graterol, on Thursday and Friday.
“The hope is to then activate him on Saturday,” Roberts said before Wednesday’s game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. “But that’s all contingent on how Cody feels.”
Roberts said the left-handed-hitting Bellinger will play mostly in center field, but that it also “could make sense to have him over at first base to manage the workload for that particular night and to get his bat in the lineup.”
As for how many games a week Bellinger will able to play, Roberts said that will be determined after a discussion with Bellinger and the team’s athletic training staff. “I’ll just see where he’s at when he gets here,” Roberts said.
Utility man Zach McKinstry, who has been out since April 22 because of a right-oblique strain, could return on Sunday. McKinstry has also played four games at Oklahoma City, batting .333 (four for 12) with two doubles, three walks and one strikeout.
Astros’ Yordan Alvarez scratched from lineup
The Astros will be without one of their best hitters when they face Trevor Bauer and the Dodgers on Wednesday. Jordan Alvarez, who is batting .310 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs, was removed from the starting lineup with a sore right wrist.
Alvarez, the 2019 AL rookie of the year, struck out four times Tuesday in the Dodgers’ 9-2 victory.
Justin Turner to serve as designated hitter against Astros
Here’s the starting lineup for the Dodgers versus the Astros on Wednesday.
Dodgers extend their winning streak to eight games with 9-2 win
Highlights from the Dodgers’ 9-2 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday.
HOUSTON — Clayton Kershaw’s first start at Minute Maid Park since living a nightmare in October 2017 ended Tuesday night with a warm ovation walking off the mound after 7 2/3 brilliant innings in the Dodgers’ 9-2 win over the Houston Astros. He moved with his head down before subtly acknowledging the Dodgers faithful populating the hostile territory with a tip of his cap.
Kershaw’s previous outing between those lines is one he’ll never forget. He gave up six runs and lost two leads over 4 2/3 innings opposite the Astros in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series. He didn’t generate a swing-and-miss with any of his 51 breaking balls. The Dodgers went on to lose in seven games. Two years later, the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme was exposed, and Kershaw’s outing was dissected across the country.
Kershaw returned Tuesday to hold the Astros to one run on four hits until he was pulled with two outs in the eighth inning. He threw just 81 pitches — and 11 over a 65-minute span as the Dodgers exploited the Astros’ bullpen’s inability to throw strikes. He recorded six strikeouts without a walk. He produced seven whiffs, six with breaking balls.
Two other members of the 2017 team gave Kershaw more than enough run support. First, Justin Turner clubbed a two-run home run off former Dodger Zack Greinke in the fourth inning for his first extra-base hit since May 8. Two innings later, Chris Taylor lofted a two-out, two-run bloop single to right field to double the lead as the Dodgers (30-18) collected their eighth straight win and 12th in 13 games. The Astros (26-22) have lost four consecutive games.
Dodgers score three runs on bases-loaded walks to take 8-1 lead
Will Smith, Chris Taylor and Gavin Lux scored on consecutive bases-loaded walks to give the Dodgers an 8-1 lead in the eighth inning.
Astros reliever Kent Emanuel walked Matt Beaty on four pitches to plate Smith before leaving with an apparent injury, adding further misery to what has been a rough night for Houston’s bullpen since taking over for Zack Greinke. His replacement, Andre Scrubb, then walked Austin Barnes and Mookie Betts to bring in two more runs. Scrubb then struck out Justin Turner to bring the nearly 40-minute half inning to a close.
Enoli Paredes was on the mound at the start of the inning for Houston, allowing a single to Will Smith before hitting Chris Taylor with a throw behind him that bumped off his shoulder blade.
After Paredes struck out Albert Pujols on 10 pitches, he walked Gavin Lux, prompting Emanuel’s summoning from the bullpen. At one point, the Astros threw 12 straight balls.
Despite the long delay, Clayton Kershaw started the eighth and got Martin Maldonado to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Kershaw was then relieved by Joe Kelly, who got Jose Altuve to ground out to third.
Kershaw allowed four hits, one earned run, struck out six and walked in 81 pitches over 7 2/3 innings. It was Kershaw’s longest regular-season outing since Aug. 25, 2018, according to the team.
End of eighth: Dodgers 8, Astros 1
Alex Bregman’s home run gets the Astros on the scoreboard
Alex Bregman hit a home run to left field off Clayton Kershaw to make it 5-1 Dodgers in the seventh inning.
It was Bregman’s sixth homer of the season. Three batters later, Carlos Correa singled to left but was left stranded when Kershaw struck out Chas McCormick to end the inning.
Kershaw is up to 76 pitches — he’ll likely be returning in the eighth.
End of seventh: Dodgers 5, Astros 1
Gavin Lux scores on a wild pitch to give Dodgers 5-0 lead
Gavin Lux scored on a wild pitch by Astros reliever Joe Smith to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning.
Lux hit a leadoff single to left field and reached third on a single up the middle by Austin Barnes. Smith then threw wide in the dirt against Mookie Betts, allowing Lux to slide into home and beat Smith’s tag on Astros catcher Martin Maldonado’s throw.
Enoli Paredes relieved Smith and got Justin Turner to fly out to right for the third out.
Chris Taylor’s two-run single gives Dodgers 4-0 lead
Chris Taylor hit a two-run bloop single to shallow center off Astros starter Zack Greinke to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning.
Justin Turner hit a two-out single to center field before Greinke walked Max Muncy and Will Smith to load the bases. Taylor then laced a first-pitch curveball into shallow center to score Turner and Muncy.
The rally ended when Albert Pujols took a called third strike with runners on the corners. Greinke has allowed three hits, four runs and three walks over six innings. Veteran reliever Joe Smith (5.93 ERA, 1-1) will replace Greinke in the seventh.
In the bottom of the inning, Clayton Kershaw gave up a single to Martin Maldonado, but that was all the Astros would get. Kershaw has allowed two hits and struck out four over 65 pitches.
End of sixth: Dodgers 4, Astros 0
Clayton Kershaw continues to dominate; Dodgers lead 2-0
Clayton Kershaw continues to be an enigma for Astros batters, retiring the side on eight pitches in the fifth inning.
Yordan Alvarez struck out on five pitches, Carlos Correa popped out to short and Chas McCormick field out to center field. Kershaw has struck out four and allowed one hit over 55 pitches.
The Dodgers went down in order again in the top half of the inning. Albert Pujols popped out to first, Gavin Lux grounded out to second and Matt Beaty grounded out to first.
Except for the two-run home run he gave up to Justin Turner in the fourth, Zack Greinke has been solid for the Astros so far. He’s allowed just one hit and struck out three over 60 pitches.
In the middle of the inning, there was a briefly delay after more stadium lights went on. The field became visibly brighter, and umpires had to talk things over with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Astros skipper Dusty Baker to make sure the teams were fine with progressing under changing field conditions.
End of fifth: Dodgers 2, Astros 0
Justin Turner homers to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Astros
Justin Turner hit a two-run home run off Zack Greinke in the fourth inning to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. It was the first hit Greinke gave up in the game.
Mookie Betts, who scored on the homer after drawing a leadoff walk.
Turner’s blast to right-center field — roughly in the same area where he reached the warning track in the first inning — was his eighth home run of the season and his first since May 4.
In the bottom of the inning, Kyle Tucker got the Astros’ first hit off Clayton Kershaw, hitting a sharp liner into the right-field corner for a double. Tucker reached third on a groundout by Alex Bregman, but was left stranded when Yuli Gurriel grounded out to short.
End of fourth: Dodgers 2, Astros 0
Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke perfect so far
Another 1-2-3 inning for Clayton Kershaw, who, along with Astros starter Zack Greinke, is perfect through three innings.
Kershaw got Chas McCormick and Myles Straw to each ground out before using his slider to get Martin Maldonado on a called third strike.
Greinke retired the Dodgers on nine pitches. Gavin Lux struck out, Matt Beaty hit into a ground out and Austin Barnes flied out to center field.
End of third: Dodgers 0, Astros 0
Dodgers and Astros remain scoreless after two innings
Another scoreless inning for the Astros. Albert Pujols hustled to catch a foul popup by Yuli Gurriel before Clayton Kershaw picked up his second strikeout on a 76-mph curveball to Yordan Alvarez. Carlos Correa then grounded out to second to end the inning.
Kershaw up to 18 pitches through two innings.
Another 1-2-3 for Zack Greinke and the Astros. Will Smith and Chris Taylor each hit into pop outs before Albert Pujols grounded out to third.
Despite there being a large number of Dodgers fans in attendance, the crowd has been pretty subdued. Astros likely will see and hear something much different when they visit Dodger Stadium on Aug. 3.
End of second inning: Dodgers 0, Astros 0
Clayton Kershaw retires the Astros in order in the first
Clayton Kershaw is looking comfortable so far against an aggressive Astros squad swinging on first pitches.
Jose Altuve grounded out to short, with Albert Pujols coming off the bag slightly to tag Altuve after Gavin Lux’s throw was slightly off the mark. Kershaw, pitching against the Astros for the first time since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, struck out Kyle Tucker before Alex Bregman grounded out to third.
Zack Greinke struck out Mookie Betts to lead off the game before Justin Turner popped out to the warning track in right-center field. The 37-year-old former Dodgers pitcher then struck out Max Muncy on an 86-mph changeup to retire the side in order.
End of first: Dodgers 0, Astros 0
Dodgers set to face Astros in Houston with new history, packed stadium
The Dodgers traveled to Houston last July for their first games at Minute Maid Park since the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal rocked Major League Baseball. The clashes were, predictably, charged with emotion.
Joe Kelly, who wasn’t even on the 2017 Dodgers, threw behind Alex Bregman. Carlos Correa got mad. Kelly made a pouty face and became a Los Angeles folk hero. The Dodgers swept a pair and didn’t look back.
But Tuesday‘s and Wednesday’s meetings will mark the first times the Dodgers play in a ballpark filled to capacity since October 2019. That they’re the first games for which Minute Maid Park has been cleared to open the gates to the max will make for a riveting scene.
Astros fans know their team cheated: Here’s why they’re ready to move on
HOUSTON — Most Houston Astros road trips this year have sounded the same.
Angry jeers and scornful chants. Curse-laiden reminders of their stained reputations. In some cities, fans have banged trash cans. In others, garbage bins have been tossed on the field. Each new trip brings a new hostile response.
Whenever they come home, it’s like nothing ever happened.
More than a year after the revelation of the team’s sign-stealing scandal, most of their fans have simply tried to move on.
“I don’t want to come off like we don’t care; we do,” said Patrick McLellan, a lifelong Astros fan who co-hosts a popular podcast, “Lima Time Time,” about the team. “But it’s like, ‘We’re good here.’ And not that ‘in-your-face’ good. It’s just, we are content and have kind of come to grips with what happened.”
He added: “There’s no dark cloud over the city.”
Betting lines and odds for Dodgers vs. Astros on Tuesday
When the Dodgers and Houston Astros played one another last season, there was no love lost. The two teams meet again at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday.
Clayton Kershaw will get the start for the Dodgers, his appearance against the Astros since Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Kershaw hasn’t given up a home run on the road this season, but has allowed at least three runs in three of his last six starts. He has a 3.65 road ERA for the season.
The Astros turn to Zack Greinke. Though the team is 8-2 in his starts this season, he has a 6.41 ERA in Houston across five starts with opponents hitting .348 and 1.7 home runs per nine innings.
Both offenses have performed well, with the Astros leading the MLB in runs per game. The Dodgers are third, but the Dodgers’ strength has been their pitching. They have the league’s second-best ERA and have allowed three runs or fewer in eight of their last nine games.
The Astros had scored at least four runs in 15 consecutive games prior to Sunday’s loss to the Texas Rangers. They’ve seen eight of their last nine games go over the total. The Dodgers have won seven consecutive games, and 11 of their last 12.
VSiN, the Sports Betting Network, offers more expert sports betting content in a free daily email at VSiN.com/email.
Column: Julio Urías pitching at a level that matches his more established Dodgers counterparts
This was what the wait was for, this was why the Dodgers treated him as if he were made of glass at certain stages of his career.
Julio Urías is only 24, but declarations about his talent don’t require the use of the future tense anymore.
The former uber-prospect is now an All-Star-caliber pitcher.
Urías pitched the Dodgers past the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, both in a sweep-sealing 11-5 victory at Oracle Park and in the National League West standings.
With a start in which he was perfect for five-plus innings, Urías improved to 7-1, his win total the most in the Dodgers’ decorated rotation and second-most in the entire NL.
How to watch and stream the Dodgers vs. the Houston Astros
Here’s how to watch this week’s two-game series between the Dodgers and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park:
How to stream
Spectrum SportsNet LA is available with a subscription to AT&T TV “Choice Plan” ($84.99 / mo.). You can stream the game on your Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, and your browser.
Fans outside of the Los Angeles market can stream the games using MLB.TV.
How to watch on TV
Spectrum SportsNet LA and SportsNet LA Desportes are carrying the games on cable and satellite providers.
How to listen
In Los Angeles, the games can be heard on 570 AM or 1020 AM (Español).