LOS ANGELES — By all accounts, Friday night should have been remembered for Emmet Sheehan’s thrilling major league debut, and in time perhaps it will. But in the present, the Dodgers are lost in a morass of inexplicably bad play and a leaky bullpen, both of which resulted in a loss to the Giants.
The Dodgers bullpen blew a 4-0 lead on Friday, two days after blowing a 4-2 lead against the White Sox. In the last two weeks, the pitching staff also blew leads of five runs and four runs.
“This one,” Dave Roberts said Friday with a pause. “It never feels good when you lose.”
Sheehan was great, his fastball keeping the Giants at bay. He allowed no hits and no runs in six innings, just the third major league debut ever with at least six innings and no hits allowed, seven years and two months after Ross Stripling in San Francisco.
“I was just trying to go out there and make it the same game it is in Double-A, which it is,” Sheehan said. “To have the Dodger fans and my family behind me here at the game, I couldn’t have asked for a better debut — besides a Dodger win.”
A few dozen of Sheehan’s family and friends were at Dodger Stadium to celebrate his debut, the culmination of a whirlwind week that actually saw the right-hander get two promotions.
After a dazzling 1.86 ERA and 41.7-percent strikeout rate in Double-A Tulsa, Sheehan was promoted to Triple-A. The move wasn’t announced yet, but he was going to start on Friday for Oklahoma City. Instead, Sheehan got the call on Wednesday that he’d start for the Dodgers on Friday.
“It’s been a lot. I was definitely a little overwhelmed,” Sheehan said. “But to get it out of the way was a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Sheehan’s 89th and final pitch on Friday resulted in the hardest-hit ball of the night by either team, 115-mph liner to right field on which Mookie Betts made a tremendous diving catch to cement Sheehan’s start with no hits allowed.
Things got progressively worse for Betts later in the game.
In the ninth inning, he was on second base with Freddie Freeman on first with one out in a tie game, with Will Smith at the plate. Betts tried to steal third base on his own, but was thrown out, a call upheld upon replay review.
“I thought it was a good baseball play, whenever you can get to third base with less than two outs,” Roberts said. “I thought it was a smart play. I just didn’t work out.”
“I was just trying to make another play, and I messed up again,” Betts said.
Another golden opportunity came in the 11th inning, down two runs and the free runner Michael Busch on second base with one out. Betts popped up in the infield, but third baseman Casey Schmitt dropped the ball, which was picked up by pitcher Jakob Junis, who threw wildly down the first base line, setting off a chain of events that Giants broadcaster Jon Miller aptly described as “a Greek tragedy.”
Here's Jon Miller's incredible radio call of Friday's incredibly bizarre play in the 11th inning— KNBR (@KNBR) June 17, 2023
"Man, that was just disgraceful!" pic.twitter.com/MdQUxMjAxl
What should have been a golden opportunity with the tying runs in scoring position with Freeman and Smith due up instead became a nightmare.
Third base coach Dino Ebel held Michael Busch at third, but Betts behind him kept running around second.
“When I peaked up at [Busch], I saw a whole bunch of white. It happened really fast,” Betts said. “I just messed it up.”
The resulting 9-6-4-2-1 putout left only Betts at third and a potential rally deflated.
“I saw the play wrong,” Betts said. “It was bad timing. We hadn’t been playing great — we’ve been playing alright, but things just haven’t fallen our way. It was just another one of those things that kicked us while we’re down. I gotta be smarter in that situation.”