The opener of Dodgers-Reds in Cincinnati was a battle between process and results for Los Angeles. Though it didn’t seem that way at times early in the game, the Dodgers ended up pleased with both in an 8-2 win at Great American Ball Park.
The Dodgers tattooed the ball all night against Reds starter Tyler Mahle, with 10 hard-hit balls, including nine with an exit velocity of 100 mph or higher. They had four doubles and a home run off Mahle, but managed only four runs in six innings against him.
Only one hit in six at-bats with runners in scoring position brought a return of recent woes for the offense, but it wasn’t all that bad. After all, four runs in six innings is a 6.00 ERA, which is obviously very bad for a pitcher. A familiar feeling lingered the Dodgers somehow should have scored more.
Justin Turner doubled to start the fourth inning, but he missed a home run by inches, his ball hitting the yellow line in left center field, narrowly avoiding the concrete behind the padding. As if to practice for improving the 0-5 mark in extra innings, the Dodgers used small ball to get turner home. Eddy Alvarez, making his third start in four games in right field, bunted Turner over, then Gavin Lux flew out for a sacrifice fly.
Freddie Freeman doubled in the third inning, but was thrown out at third base trying to advance on the throw home.
Though trying for third seemed like a reasonable read, even with nobody out, Freeman getting thrown out proved to be costly. The Dodgers got five hits in the third inning, including two doubles. But the two runs that scored on Freeman’s double were the only runs scored in the frame.
That call at third base was challenged by the Dodgers, but the out call was upheld. Los Angeles has challenged 19 plays this season, and have been successful in getting the call overturned after only six reviews. The 31.6-percent success rate is third-worst in the majors, trailing only the Red Sox (30 percent) and Rays (28.6 percent).
The dozen hits off Mahle are the most by the Dodgers against a single pitcher since Gerrit Cole, then with the Pirates, on August 13, 2016. Cole has done okay for himself since then with a 3.25 ERA and 1,250 strikeouts in 964 innings, with four top-five Cy Young Award finishes.
My usual rule with runners in scoring position troubles is that if a team keeps giving themselves chances, eventually good things will happen. And the Dodgers certainly kept threatening.
The tree bore fruit in the eighth inning, with four more hits against two relievers. Freeman slammed another extra-base hit at the right time, unloading the bases. And he got to third base safely this time for his second triple of the season.
Freeman drove in five on the night. Two of those runs were scored by Trea Turner, who had four hits. Will Smith, who homered in the first inning for the Dodgers’ first tally, delivered a sacrifice fly to score Freeman in the eighth.
Short, but sweet
Tony Gonsolin saw his streak of lasting six-plus innings snapped, but still managed to impress.
Jonathan India and Albert Almora Jr. took him deep in each of the first two innings, the first time this season Gonsolin allowed multiple home runs. But perhaps even more alarming were his 21 pitches thrown in the first inning and 24 more pitches in the second. That matched Gonsolin’s total 20-pitch innings over his previous three starts.
A walk to start the third inning added to Gonsolin’s woes, but he recovered incredibly well. Even though Gonsolin lasted only five innings, his 19 swinging strikes were a season-high, with 18 of those coming on slider and splitter.
Gonsolin retired his final nine batters faced. He’s up to 13 runs allowed in 13 starts and a 1.58 ERA this season, which leads the majors, and Gonsolin’s 68⅓ innings will give him enough innings to qualify through Thursday.
Home runs: Will Smith (9); Jonathan India (1), Albert Almora Jr. (4)
WP — Tony Gonsolin (9-0): 5 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
LP — Tyler Mahle (2-6): 6 IP, 12 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
The Dodgers are back at it again for, at least for the west coast, an early bird special on Wednesday (3:40 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA). Tyler Anderson gets the call for Los Angeles, while Luis Castillo starts for the Reds but also, in a way, for every team that will be looking for a starting pitcher at the trade deadline.