Runs were aplenty at Dodger Stadium on Monday night, and the Dodgers did score a bunch of them, seven in all. Those runs came in the first three innings, providing a five-run lead in a game the Dodgers found a way to lose by three, 11-8 to the Padres in the series opener.
Evan Phillips took the loss, allowing two home runs in the ninth inning, and four runs in total, after a flyout in left center instead became an error on a miscommunication collision between Chris Taylor and James Outman, and then a comebacker to the mound that Phillips couldn’t field cleanly.
This was just the third time in his career that Phillips has allowed two home runs in a game. He allowed four total home runs in his first 54 appearances this season.
But Phillips was just the final piece of a messy puzzle of how the Dodgers blew this game.
Gavin Stone, called up from Triple-A earlier Monday to fill innings as Clayton Kershaw was pushed back to this weekend in Seattle — Dave Roberts clarified before the game that Kershaw will start Saturday against the Mariners, not Friday — and was staked to a 7-2 lead through three innings, but simply couldn’t hold it.
Manny Machado hit a pair of home runs off Stone, a solo shot in the fourth and a two-run homer in the sixth.
Highest Dodgers season ERA
Stone was here to soak up as many innings as possible after a busy bullpen weekend in rainy Washington D.C., and a low pitch count got him through 5⅓ innings. But after the Machado homer cut the Dodgers lead to one, two more singles off Stone in the inning ended his night.
One of them scored the equalizing run, and adding to a brutal time in the majors this year for Stone. He allowed seven runs on nine hits in this one, the fourth time in five starts he’s allowed more runs than innings pitched. Stone in total has allowed 29 runs (28 earned) on 42 hits in 23⅓ innings, for a 10.80 ERA. That’s the second-worst ERA in Dodgers history in a season over at least 20 innings. The only higher ERA came in Orel Hershier’s last hurrah as a 41-year-old in 2000.
The Dodgers had the huge early lead in the first place thanks in large part to Mookie Betts. He hit a ball off the foul pole in the bottom of the first inning which not only tied the game but provided an excellent display of the new aerial camera at Dodger Stadium that SportsNet LA debuted on Monday’s broadcast.
Leadoff homer? Mookie being Mookie. pic.twitter.com/kvCv8Mj1h4— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 12, 2023
All of Betts’ 39 home runs this season have come while batting first, which matches Alfonso Soriano (2006) and George Springer (2019) for the major league record.
Twelve of those home runs for Betts, including on Monday, came while batting first in the first inning. That’s the second-most home runs leading off a game in one season, only one behind Soriano (2003) for the record.
Betts also doubled with the bases loaded in the third inning. The ball was hit to the top of the wall in left center field and actually never hit anything except the glove of a fan who reached far over the fence to catch it. That gave Betts an automatic double, but after the umpires conferred, it was ruled that Miguel Rojas would have scored from first base, making it a three-run double.
That gave Betts four runs batted in on the night and 103 RBI. All of those RBI came out of the leadoff spot, tying Charlie Blackmon’s major league record set in 2017. The only other player with even 100 RBI while batting first was Darin Erstad in 2000.
Betts already broke the team record for leadoff RBI in a season three and a half weeks ago, topping the mark he set himself (81 RBI) just last year.
In the second inning, Betts was poised to add to that total, batting with the bases loaded and one out. His 101.6-mph line drive seemed ticketed for left field, but shortstop Xander Bogaerts, a former teammate of Betts in Boston, leaped and plucked the would-be two-run single out of the air.
The Dodgers could have used those extra runs, and then some. After his three-run double in the third inning, the Dodgers went hitless in 17 at-bats until Freddie Freeman singled with one out in the ninth.
Max Muncy had an eventful at-bat in the third inning. He thought he walked on a 3-0 pitch, but a low pitch seemingly below the zone was called a strike.
This came one day after Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes tweeted his displeasure at a missed ball call on a 3-1 pitch of his own, claiming that the home plate umpire told him, “I gave you a chance to hit a homerun.”
Who knows if Cory Blaser said anything to Muncy at all after the 3-0 strike call, but after Muncy was close to tossing his bat toward the third base dugout thinking he’d walked, he got to swing one more time, then toss the bat in a more triumphant manner, slamming a home run to right field
The home run was a milestone for Muncy, his 35th home run matching his total in both 2018 and 2019, and one shy of his career high set in 2021. There’s only one other Dodger with four seasons of 35 or more home runs — Hall of Famer Duke Snider, who had five seasons in a row, all with 40-plus home runs.
If there was any silver lining to allowing nine runs in a row, it’s that Padres closer Josh Hader had to throw a season-high 43 pitches to get through the ninth inning, including a 12-pitch walk by Will Smith that included eight foul balls. J.D. Martinez delivered an RBI single in the inning and the Dodgers even got the tying runs on base. But Hader got a soft lineout from Chris Taylor with the bases loaded to end a very odd game.
Home runs: Mookie Betts (39), Max Muncy (35); Manny Machado 2 (28), Juan Soto (29), Xander Bogaerts (18)
WP — Robert Suarez (3-2): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
LP — Evan Phillips (1-4): 1 IP, 3 hits, 4 runs (2 earned), 1 strikeout
The middle game of the series features a reunion of former St. Louis teammates. Lance Lynn tries to get back on track for the Dodgers on Tuesday (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with Michael Wacha pitching for the Padres.