The Los Angeles Dodgers are now playing .500 ball. While that may not seem like saying much, it’s welcome news for the blue faithful who have been hoping against hope the boys would shake off their early season funk and get back in the race before falling too far behind in the NL West. After sweeping the last place Padres, the even better news is the team has taken two of three from the Washington Nationals, and are looking at a 5-1 record over the past week. Throw in the hot bats of Corey Seager and Yasmani Grandal, the still shaky, but improving arms of Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen, and the boys should be heading to bed tonight feeling pretty good about themselves.
The day didn’t start off so great, however, as starter Alex Wood was tagged early for two runs (one on a sac fly and the other a solo homer) before botching his way to a third Nats run when he advanced Michael Taylor to third on an ill-advised and even worse executed pick off throw in the sixth inning. Moises Sierra sacrified Taylor home and Washington was up 3-0 while the Dodgers were being quietly mowed down by Nats starter Jeremy Hellickson.
The Dodgers offense finally awakened in the sixth inning and it was beautiful to watch. Chris Taylor started things off with a one out double. After a Corey Seager walk, red hot Yasmani Grandal ripped a double down the right field line to score Taylor and Seager.
Cody Bellinger then hit the third Dodgers double of the inning to score Grandal and tie the game.
Josh Fields took over for Wood in the seventh, and despite a dicey inning, he kept the Nats from scoring. Austin Barnes started off the Dodgers’ seventh by getting plunked in the back with a pitch, and that turned out to be the difference in the game. Chris Taylor singled and Barnes made it to third base just ahead of Bryce Harper‘s throw. Corey Seager came through with a deep sacrifice fly, Barnes hurried home, and the Dodgers had the lead (4-3)for the first time in the game.
Tony Cingrani “The Savage” started off the eighth inning with a big strike out of Harper, and Pedro Baez came in to keep the rest of the frame scoreless. Then came the ninth and Kenley Jansen. The usual lights out closer has run hot and cold this season, and every Dramafornia outing has been an uncertain experience. Tonight began in nail-biting fashion as Jansen gave up back-to-back singles to the Nats eight and nine hitters, which brought up the top of Washington’s lineup.
Jansen reached down deep, raised his pitch velocity from 91 to 93 mph, and struck out the next two batters. Up stepped old friend Howie Kendrick, with dangerous Bryce Harper on deck. I said to myself, “Please Howie, have an at bat like you used to with the Dodgers.” – and he did. Kendrick flied out to CF on a 2-2 pitch, Kenley Jansen picked up a save, and the Dodgers took the Washington series while balancing out their books.
It’s a whole new feeling at Chavez Ravine and the Dodgers will unwrap their new pitcher, Walker Buehler, tomorrow night when they open a three game series against another old friend, Don Mattingly, and his Miami Marlins. Things are looking up, finally.