Though the cast of characters was longer than usual with a bullpen game, run prevention was a strength for the Dodgers. Six pitchers combined to allow three runs, perfectly consistent with the club’s 3.20 ERA over the last 12 games.
But they are 3-9 during that stretch thanks to an increasingly frustrating offense.
Freddy Peralta handcuffed the Dodgers on Friday, striking out seven in six innings. He allowed just one hit, a solo home run by AJ Pollock in the fifth inning, but otherwise kept the Dodgers at bay.
The only time the Dodgers had runners in scoring position was in the first inning, thanks to a hit by pitch and a wild pitch, but LA was 0-for-2 with a walk and did not score in the frame.
The most running done in the top half of an inning on Friday came when manager Dave Roberts couldn’t take it anymore. After a disputed check swing by Chris Taylor was ruled a strike by first base umpire Angel Hernandez, Roberts said enough from the dugout to get thrown out of the game, then proceeded to run from the third base dugout to first base to get his money’s worth with Hernandez.
“I didn’t agree with the earlier balk call on [Jimmy] Nelson, and right there I’m in the third base dugout so I don’t have a great angle,” Roberts explained. “But it was pretty clear to me from the back side that CT didn’t go around. As a hitter, or anyone who’s played the game, knows that a 2-0 count is considerably different than a 1-1 count.
“I just think we all need to be held accountable, and he missed it.”
It was the first time Roberts was ejected this year, and the seventh of his managerial career.
Friday was the seventh time in the last 13 games the Dodgers were held to two runs or less.
“It’s tough. It’s frustrating, and it seems awful,” Pollock said. “But it’s like, in baseball, you play 162. Sometimes you go through little stuff like this, as an offense.”
Edwin Uceta, the second Dodger to wear number 92 in a major league game*, had an eventful two innings in his major league debut, allowing two runs with two strikeouts.
*George Lombard was the first Dodger to wear 92, with the first base coach switching from number 29 for the 2020 season.
A span of two pitches caught a real penthouse-outhouse moment for Uceta, who struck out Travis Shaw swinging with a four-seam fastball for the first out of the second inning. On the television broadcast, it looked like Uceta had to be reminded to save the ball, which he did.
“I knew I struck him out, but I wasn’t really focused on that,” Uceta said after the game, through a translator. “When I got the ball, it took me a while to pause and throw it out.”
But his very next pitch, also a four-seamer, was hit off the base of the second deck in right field for a two-run home run.
Uceta allowed four hits and a walk among his nine batters faced, but managed to get through two innings thanks on some heads-up defensive plays that ended with Justin Turner tagging someone out. In the first inning, catcher Omar Narvaez grounded into a force out, but the throw to first got away and bounced off the dugout rail. Uceta was there to retrieve it and threw to Turner, who tagged Narvaez, who had already committed toward second base.
In the second inning, AJ Pollock made a wonderful throw on the run to third base to nab Luis Urías, who was trying to advance from first base on a single. Urías made a fantastic swim move to briefly evade Turner’s tag, but Turner was able to tag his right arm before Urías got to the bag.
First month is over
The Dodgers end April at 16-11, which was a 13-2 start followed by a 3-9 stretch.
“To get through the first month, where we’re at in the win-loss is fine,” Roberts said. “It’s just kind of how we got there that doesn’t sit well with any of us.”
Cody Bellinger has taken batting practice at Camelback Ranch, but has yet to face live pitching. Bellinger’s fractured fibula, much like Zach McKinstry’s strained oblique, has to heal before they can do more baseball activities, and ramp up their rehab. They aren’t game ready yet, but when they are there are no longer any alternate site games against other teams, not with minor league seasons set to begin as early as Tuesday.
For games against other teams, those would come on a traditional minor league rehab assignment like we saw regularly through 2019. As for Bellinger and McKinstry, Roberts said the team can still set up simulated at-bats against Dodgers pitchers still in Arizona if needed. It remains to be sign if or when they might join a minor league affiliate.
“Our guys in Arizona will assess what’s best for those two players,” Roberts said.
Tony Gonsolin, sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, threw a 20-pitch bullpen session in Arizona Thursday, and will next throw a longer session, maybe 35 pitches and likely multiple simulated innings, within the next three or four days.
Home runs: AJ Pollock (2); Jackie Bradley Jr. (2)
WP — Freddy Peralta (3-0): 6 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
LP — Edwin Uceta (0-1): 2 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Sv — Josh Hader (7): 1 IP, 3 strikeouts
Back to a pair of traditional starters on Saturday evening (4:10 p.m. PT; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with Dustin May pitching his major league game in his namesake month, facing Brandon Woodruff and his sub-2.00 ERA.