I should have known the Dodgers were doomed to lose this one. It looked like a disaster waiting to happen right from the lineup that showed Joc Pederson batting leadoff, and the back-to-back placement of Chase Utley and Logan Forsyth in the lineup. Add in starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was not very sharp in Spring Training, and you had a recipe for blue heartbreak.
Like the game of baseball will give, however, there were lots of droplets of hope and happiness for Dodger fans sprinkled throughout the game. The offense continued its awakening. There were the first hits for Joc and Forsythe, including a HR for Logan. Yasmani Grandal had a big bomb of his own and finished the game a triple shy of a cycle. Cody Bellinger also brought in a big insurance run with a hard shot up the middle in the seventh.
Ryu looked just as iffy in his first start of the year as he did in the preseason. He gave up a lot of hard contact through the early innings, allowing single runs to the Dbacks in the first, third and fourth innings.
Despite that, things were looking up for the Dodgers at the start of the game as Joc surprised many (including me) with a hit right out of the gate. Corey Seager followed that by knocking in Pederson for the first run of the night. Grandal added a 2-run bomb and the boys in blue were feeling great, leading 3-0 before the seats were warm.
There were sparkling defensive plays for the Dodgers as well. In the 2nd, a grounder got by a diving Cody Bellinger at first base. Ryu kept going to cover the base, and on a magnificent back up, Logan Forsythe fielded the ball and threw to Ryu to get the out. In the 3rd, Matt Kemp made a wonderful catch in LF, while sliding his knee into the fence. Kemp got up limpy but shook it off.
Despite the heroics, Ryu allowed runs to trickle in for Arizona, and it was a 3-3 tie at the end of the 5th inning. Logan Forsythe got his first hit and HR of the year in the sixth, putting the Dodgers up 4-3.
Ahead 5-3 in the 7th, Roberts over-managed the bullpen and created unnecessary drama. He yanked Alexander,who pitched a scoreless sixth, then he quickly yanked Cingrani after the first two outs, and went to Chargois who promptly gave up a walk and a double to put the tying runs in scoring position. Luckily the Dodgers got out of the inning with no harm done. No one saw it at the time, but Roberts was flushing through pitchers that were going to be needed for the coming marathon.
Later in the 8th, the Dodgers picked up another important run, which can be attributed to the hustle of Chris Taylor. Taylor hit a two-out single, and with Pederson at bat, Taylor took second base with aggressive running on a wild pitch.
Pederson followed with a seeing-eye single to cash in Taylor and put the Dodgers up by three. Things were looking good going to the bottom of the ninth.
“Who cares” Kenley Jansen came in to protect the win. He started out well enough, hitting 92-94 on the speed gun, dispelling talk that he had lost his velocity. He got the first two outs on infield singles. Then he walked Paul Goldschmidt. Jansen next took A.J. Pollack to a full count and started raising everyone’s heartrates. He walked Pollack, and the last two pitches were nowhere near the zone. This brought the tying run to the plate.
And then…it happened. The wings fell off.
Chris Owings hammered the first pitch he saw and just like that, the Dodgers’ lead was erased, the Diamondbacks were rejoicing, and Dodger Nation was asking itself, “What the hell is wrong with Kenley?”
The game went into extra innings, and they felt extra. The only saving grace was Wilmer Font. Font pitched wonderfully – for a while. But it was a long while. In the 14th, Yasiel Puig gave a gift to the faithful who were still awake with a beautiful catch and throw ’em out double play. Puig ran down A.J. Pollock‘s deep fly ball in the RF corner, spun around, and without missing a beat, threw a laser beam shot to 2B to get Ketel Marte trying to tag up and advance from first. It was the kind of play that can inspire a team to go forward and win in the next inning, and for a second there, it looked like that was exactly what was going to happen.
In the top of the 15th, Belly hit a one-out single. Wilmer Font dropped his second perfect sac bunt of the night, and then Chase Utley delivered a base hit to drive Bellinger home with the go ahead run. The Dodgers went to the bottom of the 15th winning 7-6.
All that remained (again) was for the Dodgers to shut the Snakes down for three outs and walk away the victors. Font went out for his FIFTH inning of relief work, and he had already beaten the Dbacks’ heart of the order twice. Unfortunately, he was past his 50th pitch. and he was apparently out of gas.
He gave up a single, which was followed by a gapper that drove the tying run home. That was followed by a single to the same spot. The winning run came home for the Snakes and the destruction of what should have been a Dodgers win (a couple of times) was complete. The Dodgers went to bed on the losing end of a 15 inning, 8-7 loss. And still noone knows what’s the matter with Kenley.