Amid an emotionally draining week, Dodgers are left stranded in loss to Rangers
Dave Roberts didn’t mind feeling “emotionally spent” Friday afternoon.
Like most in the sports world, Roberts and the Dodgers have been through a mental ringer this week, from postponing a game Wednesday following the shooting of Jacob Blake to celebrating a Jackie Robinson Day unlike any other during Friday’s series opener at the Texas Rangers.
But the energy spent addressing systemic off-the-field issues had been worth it, conversations and contemplation crucial to curing inequalities in baseball and beyond.
“It’s supposed to be that way, because it’s meaningful,” Roberts said. “Our guys have done a great job of separating what’s going on, what’s really important in our lives, in our kids’ lives, but then focusing on baseball when the first pitch is thrown.”
In a 6-2 loss to the Rangers, however, it was timely execution that the Dodgers (24-10) lacked, becoming baseball’s final team to reach double-digit defeats on a night they left eight men on base and went two for 12 with runners in scoring position.
“We were close,” Roberts said. “We just didn’t get that one hit early to get a lead.”
Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts narrated a profound and pointed video that was shared by MLB’s social media accounts on Jackie Robinson Day.
The Dodgers’ squandered chances came early and often. They stranded a pair of singles in the first, two walks in the third, two more hits in the fourth and a leadoff walk in the fifth.
Corey Seager and Justin Turner finally came through with clutch hits in the seventh, erasing a two-run deficit with back-to-back two-out RBIs. But in the bottom of the inning, Dodgers reliever Jake McGee conceded a four-spot to the Rangers (12-19) that put the game out of reach.
Even with minimal run support, starter Dustin May had kept the Dodgers within striking distance earlier in the night, mixing in more offspeed offerings in an efficient six innings: two runs, five hits, three strikeouts.
“I started to mix my stuff more and felt more confident with that,” said May, a Texas native who grew up just 35 miles from the Rangers’ new Globe Life Field. “That’s what we need to use going forward, mixing my off-speed more and stop being so cutter-, two-seam-reliant.”
Highlights from the Rangers’ 6-2 win over the Dodgers.
May’s only blemishes came in the bottom of the third, when Shin-Soo Choo lined an RBI double to left and Nick Solak drove in another on a single to right.
Turner nearly put the Dodgers in front in the top half of that inning, when his fly ball appeared to be headed for a three-run home run. But center fielder Leody Taveras leaped and robbed the ball from clearing the fence.
Having been denied a potential home run for the second time in two days — San Francisco center fielder Mike Yastrzemski made a similar leaping catch against the third baseman Thursday — Turner raised his arms with a wry smile as he trotted back to the dugout.
Turner did record an RBI in the seventh, following Seager’s two-out run-scoring double to center with a tying single to left but was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury after stealing second.
“He just felt something in his hamstring,” Roberts said. “We’re thinking more cramp [than] mild strain, but I do know he’ll be down tomorrow and we’ll reevaluate, reassess on Sunday.”
The tie didn’t last long.
The first man out of the Dodgers’ bullpen, McGee surrendered a leadoff home run to Derek Dietrich to open the bottom of the seventh. After three of the next four batters singled, including another RBI from Choo, Roberts took the ball from McGee with still only one out in the inning.
The NBA, not Major League Baseball, took the lead on walkouts and utilizing its venues as polling places, making MLB appear tone deaf on Jackie Robinson Day.
“Ultimately, it’s about commanding the baseball,” Roberts said of McGee, whose ERA jumped from 0.79 entering the night to 3.86. “Certainly, Dietrich put a good swing and there were some other balls that were a little bit unlucky. But I think the bottom line is that the ball wasn’t where he wanted it to be. It was missing middle and cutting across as opposed to staying more true.”
It wasn’t the Jackie Robinson Day performance Roberts, one of two Black managers in MLB, had hoped for. Before the game, Roberts reminisced on his own experiences playing with the No. 42 on his back, recalling how he would hike up his pant-legs and feel “like you’re trying to play as him, which is pretty cool.”
- The Dodgers’ four-run loss matched a season-high (they also lost 6-2 to the San Diego Padres on Aug. 11) as they dropped the opening game of a series for only the fifth time this season. On each of the previous four occasions, the team came back to earn at least a split.
- Dustin May has yet to give up more than two runs in a start this season. Among Dodgers pitchers with multiple starts, only Tony Gonsolin (who has thrown 14 2/3 scoreless innings) can claim the same.
- Right-handed reliever Mitch White made his MLB debut in the eighth inning, working around a one-out single and two-out walk to record a scoreless frame. White is the club’s No. 11 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
Harris reported from Los Angeles.
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