It took nearly 21 hours from start to finish, but the Dodgers finally got their first win of the series against the Guardians, beating Cleveland 6-1 at Progressive Field in a game that began on Wednesday night and ended on Thursday but featured Mookie Betts throughout.
Just like in the first game of the series on Tuesday, the Dodgers struck in the top of the first. Four hits from the first six batters against Xzavion Curry plated three runs, including a two-out, two-run double by Kiké Hernández.
When play was preemptively halted (well before the rains came) Wednesday night, the Dodgers led 3-1 after two innings. That meant short outings by the starting pitchers, including Clayton Kershaw, who struck out four of his eight batters faced and allowed one run.
Before the game ended on Thursday, another delay came from the quickdraw Cleveland grounds crew, putting the tarp on the field well before any rain came in the bottom of the eighth inning, in a 6-1 game only six outs from completion.
Both teams appeared visibly upset in their dugouts on the SportsNet LA broadcast. The Dodgers’ ire stemmed from the fact that the tarp came too early Wednesday, when more of the game could have been played, and that the game should have been over by this point. The tarp on Thursday went on the field 27 minutes before the actual rainstorm came.
“I have never seen a ground crew in the history of me being in baseball — and that’s a long, long time,” Orel Hershiser said on SportsNet LA, “I also asked Bob Geren as he got on the team bus last night. I said, ‘Bob, have you ever seen it where the ground crew that the game needs to be suspended, then we sit around and watch the weather hold for another 45 minutes when we could have been playing?”
Thursday’s rain delay lasted 73 minutes.
Interspersed between the whims of the Cleveland grounds crew, Betts started things off in the first with a single, then singled again in the second, fourth, and sixth innings. He added a two-run double in the eighth inning that broke the game open. It’s the second five-hit game in Betts’ career, also doing so two days shy of seven years ago while with the Red Sox against the Royals.
Mookie Betts, you are incredible. pic.twitter.com/WzFc687E1B— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 24, 2023
Betts is blistering hot right now, hitting .456/.506/.823 in August, including eight multi-hit games in his last 10. He’s reached base eight times in nine trips to the plate in this series.
He has 26 career games with at least four hits, including the postseason. Four have come this season, including two since the All-Star break. Betts began the month hitting .277/.383/.560 on the season and is now hitting .308/.402/.604, leading the National League in OPS (1.006) and slugging percentage.
Betts has raised his batting average 31 points in just 20 games in August.
Betts and Freddie Freeman each hit dunkers just out of the reach of a diving Guardians shortstop Brayan Rocchio in the fourth inning, Betts hitting one to Rocchio’s left and Freeman to his right, the latter scoring Miguel Rojas, who walked.
Seven of the Dodgers 14 hits in this game came with two outs, plating three of the six runs.
José Ramírez homered in the first inning on Wednesday for the only run against Clayton Kershaw, then walked with two outs in the third inning and stole second and third base on Thursday against Victor González, the first of six relievers used by the Dodgers.
González got his first two outs on six pitches, but used another 14 pitches to walk his next two hitters, ending his day. But Gus Varland followed with four outs and Ryan Brasier pitched two innings, helping to shorten what figures to be a very long day at the ballpark.
Varland earned his first major league win.
Home run: José Ramírez (19)
WP — Gus Varland (1-0): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
LP — Xzavion Curry (3-2): 2 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 1 strikeout
Weather and the all-powerful Progressive Field grounds crew permitting, the Dodgers and Guardians will finish off this three-game series about 30 minutes after this game ended, also on SportsNet LA. Ryan Pepiot will pitch the bulk of the innings for the Dodgers, but left-hander Caleb Ferguson will open the game on the mound. Right-hander Gavin Williams pitches for Cleveland.