Mookie Betts and the bullpen lead Dodgers past the Nationals

Mookie Betts continued his opening-month rampage with a career-high-tying five hits, and a struggling bullpen closed the game with six scoreless innings to lead the Dodgers to a 6-2 victory over the Washington Nationals in front of a sellout crowd of 52,718 at Chavez Ravine on Tuesday night.

Betts doubled twice, singled three times, scored twice and had two RBIs, and is now batting .388 with a 1.190 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, six homers, five doubles, 18 RBIs and 22 runs in 20 games, but the score would have been more lopsided if the Dodgers’ $700-million man had delivered in the clutch.

Three times, Shohei Ohtani stepped to the plate with runners in scoring position, and three times the slugger swung at the first pitch, producing a 108-mph groundout to second base in the second inning, a routine grounder to second in the fourth and a fly ball to center field in the seventh.

Ohtani is now one for 19 (.053) with runners in scoring position on the season, paltry numbers for a player who entered Tuesday with a .289 career average, a .618 slugging percentage, 1.036 OPS and 45 homers with runners in scoring position.

“I didn’t realize that,” manager Dave Roberts said of Ohtani’s struggles in the clutch. “But I do know that you have to peel back that small sample. I can recall numerous times he has lined out with runners in scoring position or hit the ball to the wall. [The numbers] are not ideal, but over the course of the season, if he continues to swing the bat like he is, that will balance itself out.”

The Dodgers racked up five hits and two walks while scoring three runs in the first two innings off Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin, who entered with the highest ERA (5.70) of any qualified major league starter since the start of the 2020 season, but they could have done far more damage.

Betts and Ohtani singled and Freddie Freeman walked to load the bases in the bottom of the first, but Teoscar Hernández grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, Betts scoring, and Kiké Hernández struck out.

Top outfield prospect Andy Pages, who was called up from triple-A Oklahoma City, smacked the first big league pitch he saw into right field for a one-out single in the second, Miguel Rojas walked and No. 9 hitter Austin Barnes hit an RBI single to center for a 2-0 lead.

Betts roped an RBI double to left-center for a 3-0 lead, and the Dodgers had runners on second and third with one out. But Ohtani rifled a 108-mph right at second baseman Luis Garcia Jr. for the second out, and Freeman smoked a 106-mph drive right at center fielder Jacob Young to end the inning.

The Nationals cut the lead to 3-2 in the third when Young led off with an infield single and stole second, and Jesse Winker crushed a 73-mph curve from left-hander Ryan Yarbrough 429 feet into the right-center field seats for a two-run homer.

Yarbrough shook off the homer and retired 12 straight batters from the fourth through seventh innings, and Kiké Hernández drove his first homer of the season, a 431-foot shot to center, in the fifth for a 4-2 lead.

Betts led off the seventh with a double and later scored on Teoscar Hernández’s RBI infield single for a 5-2 lead, and Betts drove in the final run with an RBI single to right field in the eighth for a 6-2 lead.

The promotion of Pages, the 23-year-old Cuban native who had season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder just three weeks into 2023 — an injury suffered on a swing in his first triple-A game — headlined a flurry of pregame moves.

The Dodgers also recalled right-hander Kyle Hurt, a former USC standout who threw two scoreless, three-hit innings as an opener Tuesday, and right-handed reliever Eduardo Salazar, and optioned right-hander Ricky Vanasco and left-hander Nick Ramirez, who each threw two perfect innings of relief Monday.

Outfielder Taylor Trammell was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Salazar. Top pitching prospect Landon Knack is expected to be called up from triple-A Oklahoma City to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Nationals.

With outfielder Jason Heyward’s recovery from a lower-back injury going much slower than expected and utility man Chris Taylor mired in a brutal one-for-33 season-opening slump, Roberts said Pages would start against Nationals right-hander Jake Irvin on Wednesday and get a considerable “runway” to play over the next few weeks.

“I’ll try to get him in as much as I can to see what we have,” Roberts said of Pages, who hit .371 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 15 games for Oklahoma City this season. “He’s a complete player. A very heady player. He lives and breathes baseball. Very good defender. He’s got plus power.

“And coming back from this really traumatic surgery he had last year, he’s been nothing but fantastic since spring training. We’re really excited.”

Hurt gave up a C.J. Abrams single, a Winker double and a Lane Thomas single to open the game but a perfectly executed relay from right fielder Teoscar Hernández to second baseman Kiké Hernández to Barnes at the plate cut down Abrams, who tried to score from first on Winker’s double to right.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top