Dodger Bats Come to Life in Sweep of Pirates
We're a week into the Dodger season, and the Dodgers need to be thankful to whomever they bribed to get the Pittsburgh Pirates on the schedule in the first week. With a 6-2 win on Sunday, the Dodgers swept the series and have a respectable 4-2 record.
Coming into the game the Pirates had a league-worst .117 batting average which meant the Dodgers and their fifth-worst .205 batting average didn't need to worry too much. At least, that was the general sense given the climate in the press box.
We really didn't consider the fact that the game was a showdown between two questionable lefties in Ryu Hyun-Jin and Jeff Locke. Ryu is making only his second start in the Major Leagues, and he's still a mystery while Locke was making his first start of the season armed with a career ERA of 5.82. So this was not going to be a quick 2 hour, 30 minute game.
That point was made very clear in the top of the first when Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer to left field in the first inning to give the Pirates the 2-0 lead. It was a minor miracle of sorts being their first score of the series.
It really looked like Ryu's 90 mph fastball with an 80 mph changeup was not going to get it done. But then the .117 Pirates re-emerged. Despite getting into several 3-0 counts, Ryu got out of the jams by unleashing his fastball. He admitted that his slider is still a work-in-progress.
"I'm not a the point where I'm completely comfortable with the slider," Ryu admitted. "But it's getting better."
Nonetheless Ryu had a better outing this time around:
Vs. Giants: 6.1 IP, 10H, 3R, 1ER, 0BB, 5K, 0HR
Vs. Pirates 6.1 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 6K, 1HR, 1WP
"I'm just happy to help my team get the win," Ryu said.
Meanwhile the Dodgers offense showed some signs of life. After Nick Punto hit a one-out single in the bottom of the first, Matt Kemp sent a double to right field Punto being stopped at third.
"I felt really good at the plate," Kemp said going 1-for-2 adding on a sacrifice fly and a walk. "It's a work-in-progress, but I felt good about today."
Adrian Gonzalez brought them home with the first of his three singles and four RBI to tie the game.
"It's always good to get runs especially when they put up those two right away," Gonzalez said. "It's good to come through."
To Gonzalez the most important runs weren't the one he drove in to tie the game. It was Kemp's sacrifice fly after Carl Crawford's lead off double and Punto's sacrifice that gave the Dodgers the lead.
"That third run was key for us, the way it was done," he said. "The double, get him over, get him in — that's baseball."
Gonzalez also singled home Crawford in the fifth inning and singled home Punto in the seventh inning.
That brings us to the only other run that was scored. Justin Sellers broke his 0-for-15 streak with a leadoff home run in the seventh inning off of Pirates reliever Chris Leroux.
"I haven't lost no confidence," Sellers said. "I was just looking for looking for a good pitch to hit. He left a fastball up over the plate. I was able to put a good swing on it."
He might have stayed confident but he did admit that a weight was lifted off of his shoulders. "I felt like I was pressing a little bit to get that first hit out of the way. Once I got that I was able to relax and see the ball and just focus on my game plan."
It showed. In his final plate appearance he drew his first walk of the season. Sellers wouldn't commit to any home runs at Petco Park when the Dodgers open up a series in San Diego on Tuesday. "You can expect some line drives."
The Dodgers have three in San Diego, another poor hitting team, and three in Arizona — a good hitting team. But for now they're 4-2, and at the very least they have an off day to savor that.