One can look for extra meaning in individual wins over the course of a regular season, though more often than not there’s nothing to be found. Nevertheless, this wasn’t your ordinary 8-7 win for the Dodgers over the Pirates at PNC Park.
The Dodgers entered Tuesday’s game without their two hottest hitters, in Max Muncy and J.D. Martinez, the former on paternity leave, and the latter day-to-day with a small back issue. Not to mention Will Smith, who was ruled out for this road trip still recovering from a concussion.
A spurned comeback that just kept coming
The Dodgers' offense actually got lucky against Johan Oviedo, the Pirates starter, and the first inning was a good omen of things to come. Miguel Vargas drove in two runners on a pop-fly that found just the right spot to drop, hit at a more 66.3 MPH, giving the visiting team, a two-run lead.
Throughout his entire outing, Oviedo allowed only a pair of hard-hit balls, yet the Dodgers' lineup managed to muster up eight base runners on six hits and a couple of walks.
By the time Oviedo left the game, the Dodgers were already trailing big, as the Pirates put up seven runs on Noah Syndergaard, but even with a depleted offense, this team refused to quit and kept chipping away.
Three of the first four batters reached base in the sixth inning, trailing 7-3, which set up a big opportunity for the rookie Michael Busch, making his big league debut, and the designated hitter notched his first hit and RBI.
Welcome to The Show, Michael Busch! pic.twitter.com/8TIgraiqhM— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 26, 2023
After another RBI single, this time from Chris Taylor, and a pop fl by Austin Barnes, the table was set for Mookie Betts with two outs, as the go-ahead run at the plate, and the Dodgers’ shortstop hit what looked like a three-run bomb, but ultimately got robbed by the left fielder, Jack Suwinski.
ADD THAT TO THE HIGHLIGHT REEL pic.twitter.com/ehJiDSSG3R— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 26, 2023
After all of that, you’re still down two runs, it’d be easy to check out of this one, but, a couple of innings later, it was the rookies’ turn again, to set the table, with both Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch reaching base, which gave Taylor an opportunity to be hero, and boy did he take it.
Noah Syndergaard’s roller coaster of a season continues
The Pirates entered tonight’s game with the number six offense in runs scored in the National League, with 111 runs in 23 games. Where this club will be at the end of the season it is not the point to speculate here, but the fact of the matter is that right now, Pittsburgh is a dangerous offense.
That danger was particularly true to Syndergaard, as the right-hander might single-handedly be the worst pitcher at holding runners in the majors. The Pittsburgh Pirates lead the National League in stolen bases with 28 on the young season, including three off Syndergaard.
Syndergaard had already allowed six stolen bases before this game, which made him number one in the National League. It stood to reason that if the Pirates got on base against him, they were going to run wild, and that’s exactly what they did.
The Dodgers’ starter never had a rhythm all night long, he allowed three stolen bases, and in none of those times did he truly give Austin Barnes a realistic chance to throw out the runner. It was simply too easy for Pittsburgh.
However, as much as we can focus on the running game aspect, what did Syndergaard in was his inability to eliminate hitters with any consistency. Overall, the Bucs roughed him up for seven runs on nine hits, capped by an Andrew McCutchen three-run bomb.
To highlight Syndergaard’s inconsistency, he has three quality starts in five games, and yet owns the worst ERA in the rotation, at 6.58.
Noah Syndergaard is done tonight. Final line: 4 innings, 7 runs, 9 hits, 2 strikeouts— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) April 25, 2023
Syndergaard has a quality start (6+ ip, 3 runs or less) in 3 of 5 outings this year, yet still has a 6.58 ERA
Bullpen was the unsung hero
One of the focal points for this disappointing start to the Dodgers season has been the shaky work out of the bullpen, and while the offense gets all the credit for this comeback, it would not have happened, if it weren’t for the bullpen pitching five scoreless after Syndergaard’s blowup.
Victor González made his 2023 debut and worked around a leadoff walk to keep the Pirates off the board. Evan Philips returned from the paternity list to shove, which is business as usual, and Yency Almonte looked a lot more like his 2022 self with a scoreless seventh
The eighth inning was the one that made you sweat as Caleb Ferguson took it to the wire, reaching a 3-1 count on Andrew McCutchen with the bases loaded and a one run-lead, but luckily for the Dodgers, McCutchen popped it up, and the lead was salvaged.
In the ninth inning, with Evan Phillips already used, and Brusdar Graterol on the paternity list, it was up to Shelby Miller to close the door, and he did so swiftly, with a strikeout looking to end the night.
Home runs: Chris Taylor (5), Andrew McCutchen (5)
WP — Yency Almonte (2-0): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
LP — Colin Holdermann (0-1): 1 IP, 2 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
SV —- Shelby Miller (1) 1 IP, 1 strikeout
Tony Gonsolin makes his 2023 debut on Wednesday (3:35 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), after missing the first 24 games on the injured list with a sprained left ankle. Roansy Contreras starts for Pittsburgh.