Six-run first inning propels Dodgers and Andrew Heaney to easy win over Nationals

Dodgers pitcher Andrew Heaney pitched four scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals.
Dodgers pitcher Andrew Heaney pitched four scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The difference was night and day.

After scoring only four runs in two losses to the lowly Washington Nationals, the Dodgers took aim just after high noon Wednesday and immediately unloaded on left-hander Patrick Corbin in a 7-1 victory.

They scored six first-inning runs, rata-tat-tat, stringing together six consecutive hits with two out, effectively putting the game out of reach before many in the sun-drenched crowd had taken their seats at Dodger Stadium.

The beneficiary was starter Andrew Heaney, who pitched four scoreless innings in his first start in five weeks. His ERA in four starts this season is an impeccable 0.47. Effectiveness seems a given with Heaney, who signed a one-year, $8-million deal with the Dodgers during the offseason.

More important will be how Heaney feels Thursday and beyond. Shoulder discomfort sidelined him for two months after his first two starts of the season, and after one start June 19 more shoulder discomfort sidelined him until Wednesday.


The last-place Washington Nationals rallied late to beat the Dodgers 8-3 on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.

July 26, 2022

“I want to feel good tomorrow and actually pitch more than two games in a row, you know what I mean?” Heaney said with a wry grin. “I knew I’d be on a pitch limit to some extent, so I was a little annoyed with myself for having some long innings. It puts more strain on the bullpen guys.”

Heaney threw 71 pitches, 40 for strikes. He fell behind in the count often and walked three. He said that while he lacked command of his fastball, he was pleased with throwing his slider for strikes.

“I thought he was really good through three and there was a little fatigue that set in,” manager Dave Roberts said. “His delivery started fighting a little bit, he started getting behind in the count, his stuff wasn’t as crisp.”

Assuming he can remain healthy, Heaney will be a welcome addition to a rotation still missing the injured Walker Buehler and Dustin May. Heaney has given up one earned run in 19 1/3 innings over his four starts.

Corbin is healthy, but for the last three seasons it’s hitters who get healthy off his offerings. It’s a mystery that the Nationals coaching and analytical staffs can’t solve, a two-time All-Star who has devolved into the worst starter in baseball.


The left-hander signed a six-year, $140-million backloaded contract ahead of the 2019 season, and he helped Washington win a World Series title. Since then he can’t seem to get anybody out, and he’s owed nearly $70 million through the end of 2024.

No wonder there was speculation that any team trading for superstar slugger Juan Soto would have to take Corbin and his salary as well. However, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said on a radio show Wednesday he wants the biggest haul possible for Soto, and that means he won’t attach Corbin to any deal.

Dodgers right fielder Zach McKinstry makes a diving catch on a fly ball hit.
Dodgers right fielder Zach McKinstry makes a diving catch on a fly ball hit by Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell in the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“We want to get the most for each and every trade that we do,” Rizzo said, “so we certainly are not going to tack on anybody’s contract to anybody’s deal, including Juan Soto’s or Josh Bell’s or anybody else.”

Corbin’s ERA jumped from 6.02 to 6.49 after he lasted two-thirds of an inning against the Dodgers. Mookie Betts led off with a double that rattled the center-field wall and after Corbin retired Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman the bludgeoning began.

Will Smith’s walk was followed by an RBI single from Justin Turner, an RBI single from Trayce Thompson, a two-run double from Hanser Alberto, an RBI single from Austin Barnes, an RBI double from Gavin Lux and a single by Betts, his second hit of the inning.

“With a hot start like that, you are playing downhill a little bit and there’s less pressure,” Lux said. “It takes the pressure off the pitching staff and defense.”

The Dodgers (65-32) failed to extend the lead until Lux’s single drove in a run in the eighth, but the Nationals (34-66) managed only five hits against Heaney and four relievers.

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July 25, 2022

Mitch White’s demotion ‘difficult’

Mitch White is clearly a big league pitcher. He’s posted a 3.70 ERA over 10 starts and five relief appearances for the Dodgers this season. He held the Nationals to two runs in five innings Tuesday.

His reward?

A demotion to triple-A Oklahoma City. And he wasn’t happy about it.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I belong here. I understand the thinking and our people making decisions do a great job. But it’s frustrating.”

White certainly does not need minor league seasoning. He’s thoroughly conquered triple-A competition, going 2-0 and throwing 11 2/3 scoreless innings at Oklahoma City this season and going 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA over 43 2/3 innings in 2021.

The reasoning is this: The Dodgers embark on an eight-game trip Thursday with four at Colorado and four at San Francisco in eight days. The bullpen is expected to be taxed as it was Tuesday when Roberts sent Garrett Cleavinger back to the mound in the ninth after he’d given up two runs in the eighth simply because he wanted everyone else fresh for Coors Field. He was shelled for four more runs in the 8-3 loss.

The Washington Nationals’ Juan Soto was greeted with more cheers in his return to Dodger Stadium on Monday as the Dodgers trade rumors continue to circulate.

July 25, 2022

Cleavinger also was optioned to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

“I could have used a couple leverage guys [Tuesday],” Roberts said. “I could have used Alex Vesia and then he’s done for two days in Colorado. You have to kind of stick to the program in the long run. It’s easy to say in the moment, do this. I’ve learned not to do that.”

As for White’s demotion, Roberts had no problem with him being annoyed.

“I would expect that response,” he said. “There’s a professionalism to Mitch saying he understands it, but there’s a competitor part that says, ‘I don’t agree with it.’

“That was a hard conversation. I didn’t expect him to agree with it or like it. And he’s shown with his performance that his sentiments are right on.”

Expect White to be recalled sooner than later, either for a spot start or to add length to the bullpen.