In another low-scoring affair, the Dodgers bullpen put up all zeroes and out-dueled Shohei Ohtani at his best, as a couple of solo home runs secured a two-game sweep of this Freeway Series on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.
Facing off against the premier baseball player in the world, the Dodgers had their hands full, and that’s before getting into the fact this was a true bullpen game for the visitors.
Through seven magnificent innings, Ohtani was masterful, finishing the night with 12 punchouts, 20 whiffs, and only a handful of hits allowed. yet, the former AL MVP left on the hook for the loss on the back of a single run allowed, as another former MVP in Freddie Freeman took him deep to leadoff the fourth.
Welcome to the Freddie Freeman Sho. pic.twitter.com/4R28qmcGTg— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 22, 2023
Under different circumstances, this outing would have an entirely different feel for both Ohtani and the Dodgers lineup. However, as the Dodgers' bullpen silenced the Halos’ bats, one run was all it needed to take home this one and secure the two-game sweep in this Freeway series.
It’s remarkable to witness how a baseball season works sometimes. The offense did so much over the past couple of weeks only to fall short, losing series to the Yankees, Giants, Phillies, and Reds. Not long afterward, the same club beat the Angels in two out of two scoring a combined four runs, as the pitching reverted to peak form, even if for just a short sample.
In the ninth inning, regardless of how confidant one is in Evan Phillips, and his ability to shut down anyone he faces, an insurance run felt particularly huge for the Dodgers, and the most unlikely of names accomplished just that.
Miguel Vargas, who had thrice struck out with a runner on base facing Ohtani, came back up to the plate for one final time, with the bases empty, and one out against veteran southpaw Aaron Loup. After a first-pitch strike, Vargas got just enough of a sinker to get it over that yellow line, and a leaping Mike Trout, in right-center.
Miggy homer? Loup, there it is. pic.twitter.com/KAC673hBNV— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 22, 2023
Dodgers bullpen? Is that really you?
Clayton Kershaw basically gave the bullpen an extra day of rest, going seven innings on Tuesday’s game, and the ‘pen made the most out of it, pitching a shutout against Mike Trout, Ohtani, and company.
Brusdar Graterol set the tone as the opener with two scoreless, and was followed in subsequent order by Victor González, Yency Almonte, Alex Vesia, Ryan Brasier, Caleb Feerguson, and Evan Phillips. Each pitcher went at least one full inning, with only Almonte allowing more than a single base runner.
Outside a potential sac-fly to open up the scoring in the third, which ended up being an inning-ending double play, the Halos really never threatened to score. In fact, their entire batting order outside of Luis Rengifo went hitless on the night.
Hopefully, this game can serve as a turning point for a few names in this bullpen, and not just your run-of-the-mill outlier outing in the middle of a 162-game season.
Defensive play of the game
Much like on Tuesday’s game, once again the Dodgers prevented the Angels from getting the first run by throwing out a baserunner at the plate in the middle innings.
This time, it was David Peralta’s turn, to throw out Luis Rengifo after Mickey Moniak hit a fly ball to left field. in the fifth inning, with one out.
David Peralta to Will Smith! pic.twitter.com/0cK1qc5W4p— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 22, 2023
The 2019 NL Gold Glove winner had a rough start to his Dodger tenure, but the patience and trust in the veteran have paid off, as Peralta has picked up the pace recently, becoming an important cog in this machine.
Home runs: Freddie Freeman (14), Miguel Vargas (7)
WP — Victor González (2-2): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit
LP — Shohei Ohtani (6-3): 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 12 strikeouts
SV — Evan Phillips (9): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
The Dodgers will head home for a three-game set against the reigning champs, the Astros. The first game of that series on Friday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network) will be a battle of two rookie right-handers, with Emmet Sheehan making his second career start, going up against J.P France.