Dodgers done in by poor baserunning, Alex Wood’s faulty command in loss to Giants
On Saturday, the Dodgers, the overwhelming favorites to win the division, were the ones making the costly mistakes as the Giants capitalized on bad baserunning and Alex Wood’s faulty command to hand them their first loss, 5-4, at Dodger Stadium.
“Whether you win or lose,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “it’s how you play the game, and I think how we got there today, I’m not pleased with.”
Wood gave up three runs in just three innings in his first start as a Dodger since 2018. The offense, already hurt by poor baserunning, couldn’t string together hits until a late comeback try fell short.
The Dodgers killed their own potential rally in the fourth inning with two baserunning blunders. Chris Taylor led off with a single but was thrown out attempting to advance to third base after a single by Joc Pederson when a throw from center field bounced away from the third baseman. Moments later, Pederson was doubled off at first base after Kiké Hernández’s flyout to center field.
The Dodgers committed another gaffe on the basepaths in the fifth when Austin Barnes was doubled off at first base on Mookie Betts’ lineout to the shortstop.
The Dodgers have the best lineup in baseball, but their rotation is a huge issue early in the season. After Walker Buehler, there are question marks all around.
“We pride ourselves on intelligence and running the bases and knowing the scoreboard,” Roberts said. “When you get doubled off … and give away outs, that’s just not helpful.”
The Dodgers’ best chance to overcome the mistakes came in the eighth inning when the Giants opened the door. Max Muncy got hit by a pitch for the second time to lead off the inning. Betts lined out to center and Cody Bellinger forced Muncy at second.
Justin Turner, who doubled twice, then hit a routine ground ball to third baseman Donovan Solano that should have ended the inning. Instead, the ball rolled past Solano, and Turner ended up at second base with Bellinger at third. Corey Seager cashed in the error with a two-run single to right field.
Taylor singled and Pederson was plunked to load the bases before Hernández grounded out to end the inning. Will Smith clubbed a leadoff home run in the ninth inning, but Trevor Gott retired the next three hitters to secure the save.
The Dodgers spent the day playing from behind because of Wood’s struggles.
The Dodgers traded Wood along with Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Kyle Farmer to Cincinnati in December 2018 for two prospects and Homer Bailey. The Dodgers wanted to shed salary. They ended up fleecing the Reds.
Of the four players traded to Cincinnati, only Farmer remains with the organization. Jeter Downs, one of the two prospects the Dodgers received, was part of the package sent to the Boston Red Sox for Betts. The other, Josiah Gray, is the Dodgers’ second-ranked pitching prospect.
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Wood’s Reds career lasted seven starts. He spent the season’s first four months on the injured list with a back injury. He posted a 5.80 ERA and gave up 11 home runs in 35 2/3 innings. He was placed on the injured list again in September and didn’t pitch again.
Wood re-signed with the Dodgers to occupy a spot at the back of the rotation. That place was seemingly solidified when the club acquired David Price. But Wood’s importance has amplified since the Dodgers began training camp.
First, Price elected not to play this season. Then Walker Buehler reported to camp behind the other starters. He didn’t pitch in an intrasquad or exhibition and his first start Tuesday against the Houston Astros probably will be abbreviated. Then Jimmy Nelson, a veteran starter signed in January to provide depth, underwent season-ending back surgery. To top it off, Clayton Kershaw was placed on the injured list hours before making his opening day start.
Already feeling better after suffering a back injury and missing his opening day start, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw believes he will return soon.
Those events, coupled with the losses of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda during the offseason, have left the Dodgers with thinner rotation depth than previous years to begin the season.
So instead of Kershaw, Buehler and Price starting the Dodgers’ first three games, it was rookie Dustin May, Ross Stripling and Wood. May and Stripling helped topple the Giants, a team projected to finish with one of the worst records in the majors, to begin the season. But Wood was ineffective Saturday.
The left-hander couldn’t shake command trouble. He issued three walks, allowed a run to score on a wild pitch, and needed 31 pitches to escape the second inning. He struck out four, threw 69 pitches, and surrendered a solo home run to Wilmer Flores on a changeup over the plate.
“I got away from my general plan of how aggressive I am,” Wood said. “We threw too much soft stuff early and they had good at-bats. ... Overall getting away from what I do best in terms of pounding the zone and attacking early. I thought that was the difference.”
Dennis Santana relieved Wood in the fourth inning and gave up a two-run double to Solano. Those were the only runs the Dodgers’ five relievers allowed but they proved to be the difference in the Dodgers taking the first loss of their 60-game season.
1. Mookie Betts didn’t kneel during the national anthem Saturday after taking a knee on opening day. Betts had said he wasn’t sure if he would continue kneeling.
2. Clayton Kershaw played catch in the outfield at Dodger Stadium on Saturday morning and didn’t appear hindered. Kershaw was placed on the injured list Thursday with back stiffness. He is eligible for activation Friday.
3. Catcher Austin Barnes was hit on the hand by a backswing and left the game after his next at-bat, but manager Dave Roberts said he expects Barnes to start Tuesday against the Houston Astros.
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