Dodgers’ bullpen delivers full-game relief in win over Astros
The Houston Astros, clawing for playoff contention, deployed their best pitcher at Dodger Stadium on Sunday night. Zack Greinke took the mound against his former team. The Dodgers, all but assured of a postseason berth, responded with a bullpen game.
The Dodgers’ approach prevailed. They won 8-1 to avoid a two-game sweep in the Astros’ first visit to Dodger Stadium since their trash-can-banging antics were uncovered.
In all, eight relievers held the Astros (23-24) to four hits and a walk. Brusdar Graterol went first and was dominant. The burly right-hander struck out the game’s first two batters with six pitches. The next batter, Michael Brantley, singled before Carlos Correa struck out on three pitches.
Kenley Jansen went last and rebounded from his disastrous outing Saturday. After giving up five runs, four earned, without securing an out the night before, the closer threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning with the seven-run cushion.
Kenley Jansen struggled late as the Astros, making their first Dodger Stadium visit since their 2017 cheating scheme was exposed, beat the Dodgers.
“Really good tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Jansen. “The conviction, execution, all that stuff was plus.”
Greinke, meanwhile, allowed five runs on eight hits across five innings. He threw a 53-mph eephus pitch and 64 faster ones. He found trouble in the fifth inning.
Kiké Hernández delivered a two-run single to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Mookie Betts capped off the four-run inning with a two-run home run just over right fielder George Springer’s glove at the wall. It was Betts’ 15th home run, tying Fernando Tatis Jr. for tops in the National League. Three innings later, Taylor busted the game open with a three-run home run.
Two airplanes flew banners above Dodger Stadium before the game to taunt the Astros. One read “ASTROS CHEATED. NEVER FORGET. GO DODGERS!” The other was more concise: “STEAL THIS SIGN, ASTROS.”
They were faint reminders that this two-game series should have been a greater spectacle. The games were picked up by national television networks for the bad blood and possible drama. They were highly anticipated duels.
Highlights from the Dodgers’ win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
But fans aren’t allowed at games, the players were intent on avoiding trouble, and the teams are on opposite ends of the playoff race. The Dodgers own the best record in the majors. The Astros are a disappointing team swimming around .500. The combination produced an ordinary atmosphere.
The next three days will be different.
The Dodgers (33-14) boarded a bus after Sunday’s game to begin the season’s final road trip in San Diego, where the surging Padres waited after sweeping a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants.
The Padres are perhaps the Dodgers’ biggest test for the National League pennant. They improved an already talented roster, led by Tatis and Manny Machado, with a flurry of moves before the Aug. 31 trade deadline. They have won 20 of 25 games and seven in a row. After Sunday, they are just 2½ games out of first place in the NL West, threatening to end the Dodgers’ seven-year stranglehold on the division.
Alec Mills throws the 16th no-hitter in Chicago Cubs history and the second in MLB this season in a 12-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
“We better embrace it as a pennant race,” Roberts said. “The goal is to win the division every year, and right now those guys are playing as good of baseball as anybody in the big leagues. They have a lot of confidence.”
A misstep here and there and the Dodgers’ division lead could evaporate by Wednesday night. The dates weren’t circled like they were for this weekend’s brief clash with the Astros, but it’s the closest the Dodgers will get to playoff baseball before October.
“It’s a good challenge for us,” catcher Will Smith said, “but we’re ready.”
Beat writers Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times and Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune talk Dodgers and Padres
Dustin May logged a 20-pitch bullpen session and completed fielding drills before the game. It was the first time he threw off a mound since exiting his start Thursday with a foot injury. Roberts said he will likely start Wednesday. … Mitch White threw a four-inning simulated game Sunday, putting the rookie right-hander in line to make his first career start against the Colorado Rockies on Friday. … White faced Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Edwin Ríos in the simulated game. Turner remains on the injured list with a hamstring injury. He was recognized before Sunday’s game as the Dodgers’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee.
Three takeaways on Dodgers
- Victor González was the only Dodgers pitcher to log more than one inning Sunday. The left-hander threw two scoreless innings and dropped his ERA to 1.13.
- AJ Pollock clubbed a home run off Zack Greinke, his former teammate with the Arizona Diamondbacks, for the game’s first run in the first inning. It was Pollock’s 10th home run in 44 games this season.
- Will Smith went two for four with a double, raising his batting average in September to .464. The catcher has been moved up in the lineup during the hot stretch and batted fifth Sunday. He has 12 hits in his last six games.
The San Diego Padres are good for the first time since 2010, but COVID-19 restrictions prevent fans from watching games in person and celebrating with the team.
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