LOS ANGELES — Simply wishing that they wouldn’t need to use the bullpen heavily for a second straight night did not work out for the Dodgers, who ran out of gas in a 5-1 loss to the Twins on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers opted not to call up a fresh arm for Tuesday’s game after six relievers combined for eight innings on Monday night. That marked the second straight start for Clayton Kershaw needing to go deep to provide relief for a taxed bullpen.
“After tonight we can kind of reassess and figure out what we might or might not need to do,” manager Dave Roberts said before Tuesday’s game. “But having Clayton go today, he did it for us his last start when we really needed it, and we expect him to do the same thing tonight.”
Last Wednesday in Milwaukee, Kershaw pitched seven innings as the Dodgers cruised to a win. But back home on Tuesday, his start was much more turbulent.
Kershaw allowed multiple hits in three of his four innings, and had runners in scoring position in every inning. He allowed two runs on seven hits, and even balked with three mound disengagements when Michael Taylor was on first base in the fourth inning.
Kershaw might have allowed even more were it not for seven strikeouts. Two of those punchouts were Carlos Correa, who also grounded into an inning-ending double play in the fourth. That double play was Kershaw’s 90th pitch of the night, and his last.
Dylan Covey joined the team earlier on Tuesday from Triple-A, but wasn’t activated. Given that the bullpen threw five more innings, Covey seems like a lock to be on the roster for Wednesday’s game.
Shelby Miller was first up on Tuesday, and allowed one run in his two innings, throwing 30 pitches, matching his total in a five-out appearance on Monday.
Victor González pitched a scoreless seventh two days after a five-out, 27-pitch appearance.
Justin Bruihl pitched scoreless ball in the eighth, then was asked to pitch the ninth as well. That’s when the damn finally broke, allowing a double to Byron Buxton and a home run to Kyle Farmer before completing the frame. Bruihl threw 28 pitches, following 16 pitches Sunday, and 20 more on Monday.
“What Shelby did for us was incredible. What Justin Bruihl did for us was incredible,” Roberts said after the game. “Not only did it preserve tonight, but gave us a very good opportunity to win tomorrow’s game, as well as the games that will follow.”
Bruihl is the second Dodgers pitcher this season to appear in a game on three straight days. Brusdar Graterol was the other, from April 28-30. Graterol is the only Dodgers reliever who didn’t pitch in this series against the Twins, after pitching three times in the previous four days, but even he warmed up in the 12th inning and would have pitched Monday had the game gone to the 13th.
The Dodgers bullpen at the moment is running on empty.
The Dodgers best offense might have come in a pair of near home runs. J.D. Martinez almost hit a three-run shot in the first inning, reminiscent of his home run on Saturday against San Diego, and Jason Heyward came close to a game-tying two-run shot in the fifth. But both long fly balls died at the left field wall and into the waiting glove of Willi Castro.
Max Muncy doubled on Tuesday, and was also caught stealing home on an ill-fated double-steal attempt with Martinez at first in the fourth inning. It was a weird night.
Muncy’s was one of three leadoff doubles by the Dodgers on Tuesday, along with Miguel Rojas in the fifth and David Peralta in the seventh. Only Rojas scored, on a single by Freddie Freeman. The Dodgers, including Peralta, loaded the bases in the eighth but pinch-hitter Chris Taylor flew out to end the inning.
Home run: Kyle Farmer (3)
WP — Bailey Ober (3-0): 6 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
LP — Clayton Kershaw (6-3): 4 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
A sixth straight series win is on the table for the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon (12:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Dustin May starting on the mound. Sonny Gray pitches for the Twins.