Justin Turner homered twice, providing just enough offense to back a stellar Dodgers pitching effort to beat the Pirates 2-1 on Wednesday night at PNC Park. Only the run prevention didn’t go exactly as planned.
A funny thing happened on the way to getting the bullpen some relief, with the Dodgers now sporting a rotation with five starting pitchers. But Tony Gonsolin was wild in his first game off the injured list, a starting pitcher only nominally.
The hope was that Gonsolin, who maxed out at 60 pitches and 3⅔ innings in his minor league rehab assignment, would be able to get through five innings on Wednesday, but he wasn’t even close.
Gonsolin walked a pair in the first inning, and allowed a pair of hits. The run that scored against him was on a play that had at least two, and probably three chances to be the final out of the inning, arguably one of the worst Dodgers defensive plays of the year.
A liner from Gregory Polanco went off — and seemingly through — Albert Pujols’ glove. Chris Taylor retrieved the ball in short right field near the foul line, only to unleash a two-hop throw that seemed to die on its way to the plate. But even after all that, the ball still got to the plate in time, where Will Smith received the ball behind home plate, giving Bryan Reynolds a clear and easy path to score.
Bad defense was no reason to exonerate Gonsolin, who escaped further damage by leaving the bases loaded in a 36-pitch first, only to walk three straight batters with two outs in the second. That spelled the end of the night for Gonsolin, who walked a career-worst five, and needed 66 pitches to record only five outs.
“He just didn’t have command, all across the board. I don’t think it was nerves,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Both breaking balls were sharp, and then that changeup, there were a couple good ones, but it just wasn’t consistent.”
Gonsolin is the first Dodgers pitcher to walk at least five and have at least as many walks as outs since Brandon McCarthy on August 13, 2016, also against Pittsburgh, though that game was at Dodger Stadium.
On the plus side, his stuff looked good at times. He struck out four, but was really only able to throw his fastball and splitter for strikes. He threw 10 curves and five sliders, and only three of those 15 pitches were in the zone.
“I threw a lot of balls, and couldn’t find the zone with anything,” Gonsolin said. “I competed through it, and luckily got out of there with only one [run allowed]. The bullpen threw great today, and they really picked me up.”
Victor Gonzalez was the first called into the impromptu bullpen game, and the left-hander jumped the smoke to get the lefty-batting Colin Moran to line out to left field to end the second, leaving the bases loaded yet again.
Gonzalez recorded four outs, David Price recorded six. Joe Kelly pitched an inning, then Blake Treinen got five outs for his longest appearance of the season. Kenley Jansen, who needed only three pitches in an unexpected outing to finish off Tuesday’s opener, got the final four outs Wednesday for his fourth save longer than an inning this season.
Seven runners reached base in the first two frames against Gonsolin. But the Dodgers bullpen allowed only five to reach base over the final 7⅓ innings. Only two reached scoring position.
“Every one of those guys stepped up tonight,” Roberts said.
The final play of the game was Jansen versus Ke’Bryan Hayes with the tying run on second base. Hayes lined a ball directly back up the middle, one that found Jansen’s glove. Whether Jansen caught it, or the ball caught him, the last out was recorded for a Dodgers win.
“That was fun. That was a quick rush, you know, adrenaline and everything,” said Jansen, beaming ear to ear just minutes after the play. “It’s kind of escape for your life. The reaction time, to catch that ball, that’s awesome.”
“The adrenaline rush right there was big,” Roberts said. “He got two big saves for us in two days. He’ll be down tomorrow.”
Roberts also said Kelly is unlikely to pitch Thursday after pitching two days in a row, and they might stay away from Treinen after his five-out game.
Tyler Anderson, the Pirates starter, lasted much longer than Gonsolin, recording 13 more outs than his counterpart. One one hand, the left-hander stymied the Dodgers such that they didn’t even bat with a runner in scoring position until two outs in the sixth, when Gavin Lux flew out harmlessly to right field to end that particular threat.
But a pair of fly balls off the bat of Justin Turner were much more malicious. In the first inning, he took Anderson out to center field for the first run of the game.
In the third, Turner hit one to left field, this one into and out of the glove of a leaping Ka’ai Tom over the wall for Turner’s second home run of the game. It’s the third multi-homer game by a Dodger this season, along with AJ Pollock on May 2 and Lux on May 31.
Those two home runs, plus a fifth-inning groundout, gave Turner 17 hits in 34 career at-bats against Anderson. He also has four doubles, three home runs, and four walks against him, hitting .500/.538/.882. Turner’s batting average against Anderson is tied with old friend Kiké Hernández against Madison Bumgarner for the second-best batting average with at least 30 at-bats against a single pitcher among active players, per Elias Sports. The only matchup with a higher average is by Nolan Arenado, who is 16 for 31 (.516) against another old friend, Hyun-jin Ryu.
Wednesday marked the 12th straight win for the Dodgers over the Pirates, tied for the second-longest win streak against Pittsburgh in franchise history. That other 12-game win streak came in 1890 for Brooklyn, in the Dodgers’ (then the Bridegrooms) first year in the National League.
Home runs: Justin Turner 2 (11)
WP — Victor Gonzalez (3-0): 1⅓ IP, 1 strikeout
LP — Tyler Anderson (3-6): 6 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv — Kenley Jansen (14): 1⅓ IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Getaway day features morning baseball, a 9:35 a.m. PT start time (YouTube), weather permitting. Julio Urías starts for the Dodgers, facing Mitch Keller for Pittsburgh.
After a 30-minute delay before Tuesday’s game started, and an 70-minute delay before Wednesday started, Pittsburgh has around a 30-percent chance of rain on Thursday at game time, that is expected to increase to between 64-75 percent during the game.