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This was a chippy bizarre game that saw the Dodgers blow a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. The Rangers made three errors and the Dodgers took advantage. Yet the game remained stalemated until the eleventh inning. The Dodgers used six relievers (Edward Paredes, Scott Alexander, Josh Fields, Kenley Jansen, Erik Goeddel, Adam Liberatore) that tossed six shutout frames allowing just three hits, three walks, and five strikeouts. I was hoping that Kenta Maeda would give the Dodgers some innings to rest their weary pen, but alas that didn’t happen. Regardless the bullpen was fantastic.
The big question was whether Maeda would be effective in his first outing returning from a hip injury that had sidelined him for the last several weeks. For the record Maeda was ok, allowing just two earned runs on five hits across five innings. The Japanese right hander walked three and struck out one. He was not involved in the decision. His mound opponent Cole Hamels tossed six innings giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits over six innings. Hamels who the Dodgers were rumored to be interested in acquiring at the trade deadline several years ago struck out six but walked four.
Rangers 2 8 3
Dodgers 3 6 0
There was a strange scuffle at home plate in bottom of the third inning involving Matt Kemp and Texas backstop Robinson Chirinos. But let’s set the stage first before I get into the quarrel that resulted in both men being ejected. The Dodgers scored in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead. Justin Turner went deep recording his second home run of the season. The Dodgers have now hit 30 home runs in the month of June. In the bottom of the second Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger walked and after a force play, Puig steals third base. He had the bag stolen but the throw from Chirinos was low. Former Dodger and future hall of famer Adrian Beltre was unable to pick the throw which bounced under his glove and into left field. Puig scores on the error and the Dodgers take a 2-0 lead.
The brawl in the third inning came from a play at the plate. Kemp singled and advanced to second on a throwing error shortstop Jurickson Profar. Enrique Hernandez singles to right and the Dodgers waive in Kermp to score from second. Nomar Mazara’s throw pulls Chirinos into the base running lane which gives Kemp no choice but to run right into Chirinos who easily tagged him out. The home plate collision rule requires the catcher to give the base runner a clear lane to the plate unless the throw pulls the catcher into the base running lane. Chirinos obviously annoyed gives Kemp a little shove. Kemp responds by shoving Chirinos right back and the benches clear. Both men are ejected after the ruckus. Kemp would have been out anyways, but the shove from Chirinos seemed unnecessary.
The Rangers still clearly angry from the third inning dustup rallied for two runs in the top of the fourth to tie game. Beltre doubles and Profar’s dunker single into left center brings him home, but Hernandez’s throw to the plate was close. The umpires originally call Beltre safe but the Dodgers challenged the call which was upheld. It was a bang bang play. You make the call………..
The game remained tied and we move to the bottom of the ninth. The Dodgers had a golden chance to win but they ran out of pinch-hitters. Former Dodger Jesse Chavez begins the inning by walking Yasiel Puig. Logan Forsythe’s ground-ball single into right moves Puig to third and the Dodgers have first and third with nobody out. With the Texas infield playing in, Austin Barnes comes to the plate with a shot to win the game. Remember with the Dodgers unable to get any kind of length from their starters meant that they had to burn through pinch-hitters earlier in the game (Breyvic Valera struck out for Maeda in the fifth, Max Muncy walked for Alexander in the seventh). It’s something I’ve been harping on and on about on this blog for years now. It has a cascading effect. Using a parade of middle relievers also means you have to hit for them when their spot comes up. So instead of having Muncy or Valera or anybody available to bat for the atrocious Barnes, (who struck out three times during an 0 for 5 night).
The Dodgers had Yasmani Grandal as the lone hitter left on the bench, but Kenley Jansen’s spot was on deck. So Barnes was left into hit and he immediately grounded into a weak double play that ruined the inning. Grandal would smash a deep fly to center but Delino DeShields made a leaping catch against the wall to rob the Dodgers of a walk-off.
Ironically Barnes would knock in the winning run in the bottom of the eleventh. Hernandez led off with a walk and tagged up to second on Bellinger’s fly out to left. The Rangers would intentionally walk Puig to try and setup a force play or double play. Reliever Matt Bush walks Forsythe to load the bases. Barnes hits a little bouncer to the mound as Hernandez was running on contact. It should have been at least an easy force out and possibly a double play, but Bush’s throw was wide as Enrique danced around the tag to score the winning run. Baseball is a strange game.
The Dodgers now improve to 35-32 and with Arizona’s loss earlier this evening move to within two games of first place in the National League West. Thursday is a scheduled off day for the boys in blue before the hated Giants come into town for a weekend series. Ross Stripling will take the mound in the series opener on Friday night while the Giants will counter with Derek Holland.