Clayton Kershaw did his part with another quality start. The Dodgers lineup came back from an early deficit to lead in the late innings. However, a bullpen implosion jeopardized it all, allowing six runs in an 8-4 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
After picking on the struggling Lance Lynn on Tuesday night, the Dodgers offense was unable to do any damage against Mike Clevinger for as long as he was out there.
The White Sox starter entered the fifth inning having allowed only one hit, and no runs. However, while facing J.D. Martinez with a couple of men on and two outs, Clevinger felt something and immediately had to leave with what was reported as right biceps soreness.
Gregory Santos came in to replace Clevinger in the middle of the at-bat against the Dodgers, with a 1-2 count in his favor, and managed to strike him out, a punch out that went to the final line of the White Sox starter.
Santos came back out for the sixth and got singled out by the sequence of Dodgers veteran bats, with David Peralta, Chris Taylor, and Jason Heyward leading off the frame with three straight singles, the latter of which resulted in a run, as Clint Frazier’s errant throw allowed Peralta to come to the plate after he had already received the stop sign.
How about a four-run sixth inning? pic.twitter.com/F0gHH8xhiP— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 15, 2023
With James Outman coming up, the White Sox made the call to the bullpen and brought in left-hander Aaron Bummer. Dave Roberts countered by pinch-hitting with Miguel Vargas, who walked to load the bases. Miguel Rojas followed with a strikeout.
Up at the plate with the bags full, and the Dodgers still trailing 2-1, Austin Barnes grounded back up the middle, but the White Sox couldn’t get the force, with Heyward winning the race to the bag, and just like that, the score was tied, with the bases still loaded, and only one out.
Mookie Betts then followed with a go-ahead two-run single, giving the Dodgers a two-run lead, which would last until the eighth inning, when Yency Almonte coughed it up in his second inning of work, conceding a two-run shot to Jake Burger, his second home run on the night.
Kershaw. Reverting to his peak work-horse days
Are we sure this is 2023? Because with Kershaw carrying this pitching staff on his back, it certainly feels like the early years of his prime,
In what at this point feels like the rare occasion in which Kershaw wasn’t pressed to give the bullpen a breather, with the team coming off an off day on Monday, and a strong six-inning performance from Tony Gonsolin on Tuesday’s opener, the Dodgers’ ace still did the ace thing, tossing six frames of two-run ball.
It was one of those clear gut-through-it outings for Kersshaw, as the southpaw didn’t really have his fastball working, only getting five called strikes on 35 heaters, and a single whiff on 18 pitches.
Without the fastball, Kershaw really had to lean on his slider to succeed, not necessarily throwing it more than he usually does (46 percent usage tonight, in comparison with 44 percent on the season), but making the most out of it, with nine called strikes out of his 15 on the night, and nine out of his 12 whiffs.
Despite a bit more traffic than usual, with eight baserunners across those six innings, all the damage done by the White Sox bats came on a couple of solo shots.
Jake Burger ambushed a first-pitch fastball and took it to right-center to open the scoring in the second, and an inning later, Luis Robert Jr. upped the Sox lead to 2-0 when he got a hold of a curveball right at the edge of the zone, and took it to deep left.
Luis Robert Jr. made it look easy! pic.twitter.com/64YAXjfqSp— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) June 15, 2023
Bullpen struggles continue
Even for a struggling ‘pen, it is hardly asking that much to need it to cover three innings, with a two-run lead, which was the requirement tonight.
Almonte came in and needed 10 pitches to get through the seventh, quick enough that Dave Roberts send him back out there for the eighth.
Eloy Jimenez led off the inning with a double, and was followed by a two-run game-tying shot from Jake Burger, on a hanging sweeper from Almonte.
Replacing Almonte, Alex Vesia would carry on the struggles, seeing the White Sox take the lead as he hit the first batter he faced (Andrew Benintendi), then allowed him to reach second on a wild pitch, and then conceded the one-out RBI single to Clint Frazier, giving the White Sox a 5-4 lead.
The White Sox would even tack on three insurance runs in the ninth, with the heart of the order doing damage off Tayler Scott and Victor González.
Home runs: Jake Burger 2 (15), Luis Robert, Jr. (16)
WP — Reynaldo López (2-4): 3 up, 3 down
LP — Alex Vesia (1-3): ⅓ IP. 1 hit, 1 run, 1 strikeout
The Dodgers will wrap up this series by sending out right-hander Michael Grove on Thursday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), against the ace of the South Siders in Dylan Cease.