Dodgers pitching continues to be a festering wound that has yet to be fully healed, and on Sunday Michael Grove got hit around early and often in a 9-0 blowout loss to the Reds at Dodger Stadium.
Grove entered Sunday with at least some reason for optimism, with a 3.66 ERA in his last four starts. But the Reds got him for three innings right away in the first inning, then three more in the third inning, so Grove’s objective was no longer of the competitive variety. He had to stay in the game to wear this one, trying to soak up as many innings as possible to avoid adding further burden on the taxed bullpen.
Cincinnati plated single runs in the second and sixth innings against Grove, totaling eight runs to match Grove’s total allowed over his previous four starts.
But it also followed a pattern. Dodgers starting pitchers have allowed eight runs in three of their last four series finales, including Julio Urías on July 19 in Baltimore and Emmet Sheehan on July 23 in Texas. Tony Gonsolin allowed only five runs in Wednesday’s series finale loss to the Blue Jays, which should have earned Gonsolin getting carried off the field as a hero given how bad this pitching staff has been this season.
Dodgers starting pitchers had a 6.18 ERA in July, the second-worst in franchise history for any month with at least 15 starts. Only the Brooklyn team in July 1944, with a 7.31 during World War II, had a higher ERA than this team.
Grove was very bad on Sunday, allowing three home runs and raising his ERA on the season to 6.75. But he did eat up innings, getting through six frames for the most silver of linings on a terrible day. He also struck out 10, which made for a rather hilarious pitching line in total.
The only other Dodgers pitcher to allow at least eight runs and strike out at least 10 in a game was the immortal Van Lingle Mungo on September 19, 1936.
In addition to the carnage on the scoreboard, Sunday was also costly in another way for the Dodgers. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez was pinch-hit for in the first inning, leaving with left hamstring tightness, the same malady that sidelined him for two games a week ago. Then catcher Will Smith left after three innings with a left elbow contusion. He was hit by a pitch on the elbow in the first inning.
Things got so bad that shortstop Miguel Rojas pitched the top of the ninth inning, the first time on a mound in his career. He allowed a run on two hits and a hit by pitch.
Rojas is the 34th Dodgers pitcher used this season, and Lance Lynn will be number 35 (literally) on Tuesday. The team record is 39 pitchers used in 2021.
Home runs: Elly De La Cruz (7), Matt McLain (11), Joey Votto (9)
WP — Graham Ashcraft (6-7): 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 strikeouts
LP — Michael Grove (2-3): 6 IP, 10 hits, 8 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Monday is an off day, which is good for a Dodgers pitching staff that has allowed 46 runs over the last seven games. Up next are the A’s starting on Tuesday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with Lance Lynn making his Dodgers debut in the series opener.