Dodgers pitching was mostly strong, and the offense that was still standing looked like it did just enough to make it hold up. But before Los Angeles could leave Oakland with a sweep, the A’s scored once in the ninth and once in the 10th for a 4-3 win, snapping the Dodgers’ five-game winning streak.
Kenley Jansen, tasked with protecting a one-run lead in the ninth, walked two and allowed a single, throwing only nine of his 22 pitches for strikes. A sacrifice fly to center field by Elvin Andrus brought home the tying run with two outs in the frame.
“It’s uncharacteristic for him to not have the command like that,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There were some misfires in there, some spiked fastballs that just doesn’t happen with him. We’ll dig into it.”
In the 10th inning, the A’s free runner on second to open the frame against Jimmy Nelson advanced to third on a fly out to center field, then scored on a walk-off single by Mitch Moreland on a 1-2 pitch.
Trevor Bauer pitched into the seventh inning for a second straight start, allowing only a pair of runs. One came on a hit by pitch, two steals by Ramon Laureano, and a wild pitch, and the other was much easier for Oakland, a solo home run by Matt Chapman.
“It was a mixed bag,” Bauer said. “I thought my stuff was really good, and I was happy with some mid-inning adjustments I made. I was just behind a lot, 1-0, 2-0. I gotta clean that up.”
Half of Bauer’s 20 outs recorded were via strikeout, putting him in select company. Only three pitchers have struck out 10 batters in their first two starts with the Dodgers: Karl Spooner (1954), Yu Darvish (2017), and Bauer.
Bauer isn’t the only member of the rotation pitching deep into games. Wednesday marked the sixth straight game the Dodgers starter has pitched at least six innings, their longest stretch since May 30-June 4, 2019. That has done wonders for giving the bullpen rest, though Jansen was called on for the second of back-to-back days and blew his first save of the season.
Victor Gonzalez, who recorded his only batter faced for the final out of the eighth inning Wednesday, is the other Dodgers reliever to pitch on back-to-back days. Every other Dodgers relief appearance in the opening week came with at least two days rest.
On offense, the Dodgers were already playing shorthanded with Cody Bellinger out with a calf injury, but then Mookie Betts was held out of the lineup on getaway day after feeling lower back stiffness Wednesday morning. Betts is expected to play in Friday’s home opener, but Bellinger is not.
“I don’t expect him to be in the lineup Friday unless something really crazy happens for the better,” Roberts said. “[The injured list] is still a possibility. We’ll kind of get through tomorrow, get to the ballpark on Friday, and make a decision then.”
The resulting lineup machinations on Wednesday led to catcher Austin Barnes starting at designated hitter for the first time in his career. Barnes singled during a rally for the go-ahead run in the sixth, and nearly had a home run, but A’s left fielder Seth Brown had other ideas in the fourth inning.
H/T to you Brownie #RiseAndGrind pic.twitter.com/XYM2wXm7z3— Oakland A's (@Athletics) April 7, 2021
The lineup did get some reinforcements though, in the form of Chris Taylor, back in the lineup after missing a game with a left elbow contusion. Taylor doubled, singled, was hit by a pitch, and walked, scoring twice from the leadoff spot, and is hitting .357/.591/.500 on the season. Yes, that’s a .591 on-base percentage, reaching base 13 times in his 22 plate appearances.
Max Muncy has a .531 on-base percentage, including walking four times against the A’s on Wednesday. The Dodgers threatened for most of the day, reaching base 16 times in the game. But, like the first game of the road trip when they struggled to get those runs in, the Dodgers were just 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position.
“Today is one of those days we didn’t cash in on opportunities,” Roberts said. “You’re going to have those days.”
Home run: Matt Chapman (1)
WP — Yusmeiro Petit (1-0): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
LP — Jimmy Nelson (0-1): ⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 unearned run, 1 walk
The Dodgers are off Thursday, which is a welcome rest for a few players. Next game is Friday against the Nationals at Dodger Stadium, when the Dodgers get their rings before the home opener.