Just when you thought you saw the best Dodgers major league debut this week, Ross Stripling stole the show. But in the end he and the Dodgers had nothing to show for it thanks to a 3-2 loss to the Giants in 10 innings.
Brandon Crawford took Joe Blanton deep to lead off the 10th inning for the walk-off win, but the crux of the game came two innings earlier.
Stripling was removed with one out in the eighth inning with a no-hitter still intact, but with a 2-0 lead and the tying run coming to the plate. Stripling had just issued his fourth walk of the game, but was pulled right at 100 pitches, with Buster Posey in the hole ready to pinch hit for the pitcher.
Setup man Chris Hatcher was brought in to face catcher Trevor Brown, and immediately allowed a home run to tie the game, undoing what Stripling had built to that point. Brown struck out in both of his at-bats against Stripling.
Manager Dave Roberts eventually got ejected arguing balls and strikes, running out to argue with home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg later in the eighth inning, though it was more of a move to protect Hatcher and catcher A.J. Ellis during the argument.
After the game, Roberts called the decision to remove Stripling "a no-brainer."
Stripling, in his major league debut and two years removed from Tommy John surgery, had never thrown 100 pitches in a professional game before, and reached 90 pitches just seven times. He had lasted longer than six innings just four times in his career, once in 2015, and just two times did he last eight innings, back in 2013.
No Dodgers starting pitcher in his major league debut had taken a no-hitter even into the fifth inning since Pete Wojey on July 2, 1954.
Stripling retired the first 10 batters of the game, but then walked a pair in the fourth inning to give the Giants their first threat. The rally could have been much more dangerous had the inning not started with this tremendous catch by Joc Pederson in center field.
Hey @RossStripling, @yungjoc650's got you too.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 9, 2016
: https://t.co/LPIjDHBYG2 pic.twitter.com/8Wi48D26u1
Stripling after working out of that jam cruised into the seventh inning when a key portion of his outing came up.
Hunter Pence walked to open the seventh and, down 2-0, Brandon Belt drew a 3-0 count at the plate as the tying run. But Stripling got two strike calls, then induced a double play grounder to the right side to neuter the Giants' rally and give Stripling two huge outs.
Stripling struck out four on the night and walked four, and continued an incredible run for the starting staff the first time through the rotation. Dodgers starting pitchers have a 1.72 ERA with 25 strikeouts and seven walks in 31⅓ innings.
The runs came for the Dodgers in the fifth inning, when Joc Pederson opened with a double and was driven in byEllis for the game's first run. Singles by Chase Utley and Corey Seager brought home Ellis, giving Stripling a two-run lead.
Saturday brings us another day contest, with a pitching matchup so good it will be shown locally on two different networks. Clayton Kershaw makes his second start of the season still looking to keep his ledger spotless, facing off against Madson Bumgarner in a 1:05 p.m. PT start. SportsNet LA will televise the game locally, and Fox Sports 1 will do so nationally, the latter a broadcast that is available in the Los Angeles market.
Home runs: Trevor Brown (1), Brandon Crawford (2)
WP - Santiago Casilla (1-0): ⅓ IP, 1 hit
LP - Joe Blanton (0-1): 0 IP, 1 hits, 1 run