Who has two thumbs and never stopped believing in Joc Pederson’s talent….(holds up thumbs) This guy! It was Joc’s power that helped spearhead an 8–run Dodger attack at PNC Park in the rubber game of their three game series against the Pirates. The Dodgers needed every one of those runs which included three home runs and seven extra-base hits. Pederson slugged two home runs while driving in three runs and Cody Bellinger also had three hits and two runs driven in as the Dodgers beat the Bucs 8-7.
It wasn’t easy because the Dodger’s pitching and game strategies are a disaster. The entire starting rotation is on the disabled list so rookie Dennis Santana was the scheduled starter. But just minutes before the game he was scratched while warming up in the bullpen. We later learned that he had soreness in his LAT muscle. So you would think that the Dodgers, a team with World Series expectations would have a viable backup plan in place, right?
Dennis Santana said he felt pain in his lat when he threw the slider. Will get MRI in LA tomorrow.
— AlaNNa Rizzo (@alannarizzo) June 7, 2018
Dodgers 8 13 1
Pirates 7 9 0
Wrong. Their brilliant plan was to just use the bullpen the entire day. With the pen already logging a ton of innings on this road trip, that seemed like a costly mistake. For the record they did win, so many people will claim that the flawed strategy works. But let’s see how this affects the staff when the team returns home against the Braves this weekend. In the meantime today we were greeted with failed relievers pitching in the early innings. Daniel Hudson, Scott Alexander, and Pedro Baez all pitched in the first three frames. Hudson and Alexander each pitched a single scoreless inning and Baez (recalled because Tony Cingrani was placed back on the disabled list) tossed two innings and gave up one earned run.
The Dodger bats had to come through this afternoon to make up for the awful pitching, and boy did they. Joc Pederson got things going during the opening frame with a solo home run to lead off the game. The Pirates tied the game in the bottom of the third when Jordy Mercer reached on a single, was sacrificed to second, and then advanced to third on a well placed bunt single from Josh Harrison. Gregory Polanco’s sacrifice fly brought in Mercer to tie the game at 1-1.
The Dodgers scored single runs in the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. They also scored two runs in the seventh and eighth innings as well. The Dodgers reclaimed the lead in the top of the fourth. Cody Bellinger doubled and was advanced to third on Chris Taylor’s single. The little engine that could, Breyvic Valera scored Bellinger with a bunt single to first that he beat out.
In the top of the fifth, Joc doubles and eventually scores on a Matt Kemp ground ball force out to put the Dodgers up by a 3-1 score. Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon was fairly effective, tossing five innings and allowing three earned runs on eight hits. Taillon struck out seven and walked one. The Dodger bats took advantage of the Pirate’s bullpen. In the top of the sixth, Valera walked and a Yasiel Puig pinch-hit double scored him to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead.
The Pirates would rally in the bottom of the sixth. With Josh Fields on the mound, Starling Marte walked and Josh Bell would double him home. That made it a 4-2 Dodger lead. An Elias Diaz sacrifice fly later in the inning would bring the Pirates to within a run.
A Cody Bellinger home run (with Kemp aboard) would give the Dodgers a 6-3 lead in the top of the seventh. The Dodgers added an additional two runs in the top of the eighth. Logan Forsythe walked and scored on a Pederson two-run blast. That’s Joc’s second home run of the game. The Dodgers lead 8-3.
Move to the bottom of the eighth. With Brock Stewart pitching, the Pirates plated three unanswered runs to cut the Dodger lead to 8-6. There was a Corey Dickerson single, a Max Muncy error and a three-run home run from Diaz to get the Bucs close.
Kenley Jansen had to be brought in with one out in the bottom of the eighth because the Dodgers had expended their entire pitching staff. They were lucky the game didn’t go extra innings. Kenley ended the eighth inning by striking out Mercer, and getting Adam Frazier to line out to short.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Cervelli homered to get the Pirates within a run. The Dodgers now led 8-7. Thankfully there was nobody on base when the Buc’s backstop launched that ninth inning home run. Kenley recovered to get Marte to ground out, and then strike out Josh Bell to end the game.
The Dodgers return home to open a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. The boys in blue have now won 15 of their last 20 games and have reached the .500 mark once again. However the club can’t continue with these types of pitching strategies. The bullpen can’t pitch 6+ innings three or more times per week. The Dodgers are going to have to get out there and find some starting pitching somehow. Friday night’s pitching match-up will see rookie sensation walker Buehler countering old friend Brandon McCarthy.