The Dodgers on Wednesday surpassed their offensive output of the first two games of the series, but their flaws were laid bare in a third consecutive loss to the Marlins, this one 9-6 in Miami.
Miami scored runs in seven of nine innings on Wednesday, the cracks of a taxed bullpen widening into gaping holes. Edwin Uceta was brought into a tie game in the ninth, and gave up a two-out, walk-off, three-run home run to Jesús Augilar, after Sandy Leon singled and Starling Marte was walked intentionally.
The Dodgers, who got a home run from Zach McKinstry in the top of the ninth to extend the game into the bottom of the frame, have scored in five of 28 innings in the series.
“They’re doing a great job of capitalizing on every mistake we make, and we’re paying the price for it,” said third baseman Justin Turner, who had three hits. “We’re not doing the little things right now.”
With the Dodgers bullpen taxed and several leverage relievers unavailable on Wednesday, Kenley Jansen entered the game in an unusual situation for him, in a tie game and one out in the eighth.
Pinch-runner Magneuris Sierra posed another problem for Jansen, one of the easiest relievers to run on in the majors. Eight runners were successful in eight tries against Jansen before this game, and he allowed 45 runners to steal without getting caught since the start of 2017.
That has to be at the front of mind of Austin Barnes when, with Sierra running on a 1-1 pitch, he reached for a strike too soon. Augilar fouled the pitch off, but instead was awarded first base on the fourth catcher’s interference call on Barnes this season, tied for the major league lead. Barnes has been called for catcher’s interference in each of his three starts on the road trip.
The previous two didn’t score, but after Sierra later reached third on a delayed steal, Jansen allowed a two-out single to Jesus Sanchez, giving the Marlins the go-ahead run.
Jansen and Joe Kelly recorded five outs on Wednesday. The other 21 outs were recorded by four pitchers who started the season in Triple-A, and each of them allowed a home run.
My brother Greg when he was a young lad, before I was born, for a little while had a lisp. Maybe it was after he lost a tooth, I don’t remember the details. But he was playing Yahtzee — or perhaps it was my grandma’s preferred dice game, Kismet — and at some point was talking about rolling his “usual sixes,” only imagine how amazing that would sound from a six-year-old with missing teeth.
The Dodgers were starting down a pair of sixes to start the third inning. Ross Detwiler, Miami’s opening salvo in the double bullpen game, retired his first six batters of the game. AJ Pollock led off the frame having struck in each of his previous six at-bats. But one pitch later, Pollock hit one over the fence in left center.
That was the Dodgers’ first home run of the series, and before the inning was over they’d add two more. Mookie Betts hit one to left, then singles by Albert Pujols and Max Muncy set up Justin Turner for this:
South Beach, JT bringin' the heat. pic.twitter.com/SCQ1LRKxEU— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 8, 2021
The Dodgers sent 10 batters to the plate in the third inning, nine against Detwiler, and turned a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 advantage. Three home runs in the inning matched a season high, which the Dodgers also did on June 11 in the first inning against the Rangers at Dodger Stadium.
The eight home runs — four by each team — are the most in a Dodgers game this season. The previous high was six, on May 31 in Milwaukee.
Stepping into the void
Mitch White was recalled from Triple-A before the game, and entered in the second inning. He allowed single runs in three different innings, though one run was unearned, and struck out five in four innings. It was the longest outing of the season in the majors or minors for White, who became the seventh Dodger to pitch longer than three innings this season, joining the six starters.
The only other non-starters to record more than even six outs in a game this season were Edwin Uceta (twice, including three innings in May 16) and David Price (2⅔ innings on May 27). Long men are a thing of the past, and the constant churning of relievers in short stints puts teams in situations like the Dodgers are in now, having used 13 different relief pitchers in the last seven days.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
That made White’s length on Wednesday very much appreciated, especially on a night when several relievers were unavailable, and with another bullpen game coming Friday with Clayton Kershaw on the shelf.
Home runs: AJ Pollock (9), Mookie Betts (11), Justin Turner (14), Zach McKinstry (6); Garrett Cooper 2 (9), Jesús Aguilar 2 (4)
WP — Anthony Bender (1-0): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 3 strikeouts
LP — Edwin Uceta (0-3): ⅔ IP, 2 hits, 3 runs, 1 strikeout