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Chris Taylor, Zach McKinstry both scratched with lower back stiffness

Both are day-to-day

MLB: Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers planned to start Chris Taylor and Zach McKinstry in Thursday’s opener against the Padres, though both were scratched before the game with lower back stiffness.

“They couldn’t swing the bat tonight, so we had to stay away from those guys,” manager Dave Roberts said. “They were both available to pinch run, potentially. So we made some changes, and we’ll see how they respond tomorrow to treatment.”

Neither appeared in the game.

While it might be easy to point to Taylor and McKinstry being out hampering the offense, the changes Roberts made to his lineup — inserting Sheldon Neuse at second base and Luke Raley in right field — accounted for two of the Dodgers’ six hits on the night.

Neuse’s hit was his first home run as a Dodger, and all three of his balls in play had exit velocities in the triple digits. His smash with the bases loaded in the eighth inning was 105 mph off the bat, but Jake Cronenworth made a sensational play to start what turned into an inning-ending double play, finished off by a strong turn by Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop.

“I thought Sheldon — I mean he swung the bat great,” Roberts said. “He had a good at-bat, and it took a great play by Cronenworth to recover on that ball, and to make a nice feed. I don’t know too many shortstops who can make that turn with the arm strength. It was a heck of a play by them.”

The Dodgers hit eight balls with an exit velocity of at least 100 mph in Thursday’s game. Two of them were home runs, with AJ Pollock hitting the other one along with Neuse, but the other six turned into outs.

A hard out’s gonna fall

Player Inning Base situation Exit velocity (mph) xBA Result
Player Inning Base situation Exit velocity (mph) xBA Result
Sheldon Neuse 7 --- 108.7 0.860 Home run
Corey Seager 6 --- 107.6 0.710 Lineout
Sheldon Neuse 8 123 105.0 0.630 Double play
Justin Turner 3 1-- 103.7 0.260 Force out
AJ Pollock 7 --- 102.5 1.000 Home run
Edwin Ríos 7 1-- 100.7 0.190 Flyout
Will Smith 1 1-- 100.1 0.690 Flyout
Sheldon Neuse 5 --- 100.1 0.630 Flyout
Source: Baseball Savant

The two home runs accounted for the only Dodgers runs Thursday, giving them just 10 runs scored over the last five games, during which they are averaging under four hits per game, hitting .126/.233/.258. Despite the slump, Roberts said he isn’t too concerned.

“We’ve got a lot of good offensive players who have track records to back it up,” Roberts said. “There’s always parts of a season where there’s a lull offensively. That happens. You know, those pitchers are pretty good, too. But yeah, I’m okay with our offense.”

Up next

The Dodgers and Padres are back at it again on Friday night (7:10 p.m. PT; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with Clayton Kershaw pitching against Yu Darvish in a rematch of last Saturday’s duel.