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Gavin Stone pitches seven strong innings to give Dodgers their 14th win in 16 games

May 9th, 2024

Dave Roberts has seen his share of hot streaks during his nine years as Dodgers manager — you don’t win 100 games or more in five of the last seven seasons without going on a few tears.

But he’s not sure he’s seen the Dodgers string together as many complete games, combining starting pitching, relief pitching, offense and defense, as they have during this current run, which continued with Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over the Miami Marlins before 40,702 in Chavez Ravine.

Teoscar Hernández drove in all three Dodgers runs on an RBI single in the first inning and a tie-breaking two-run homer in the sixth, and Gavin Stone threw seven superb innings, giving up one run and six hits, striking out four and walking none, as the Dodgers won for the 14th time in 16 games and extended their win streak to seven.

In 16 games since April 21, the Dodgers have outscored opponents 100-31 and hit .286 with 28 homers, 35 doubles, 73 walks and only 99 strikeouts. Their pitchers have combined for a 1.74 ERA, yielding 28 earned runs and 12 homers in 145 innings.

Read more: ‘He is starting to become that guy’: Yoshinobu Yamamoto shines in Dodgers’ victory

The Dodgers entered the day with 23 defensive runs saved, according to Fangraphs, the third-best team total in the league, and Wednesday’s errorless game ended with second baseman Miguel Rojas charging a slow Jesus Sanchez roller and making a quick and accurate off-balance throw to first for the final out.

Dodgers starting pitchers have notched 11 quality starts and allowed 23 earned runs in 94⅓ innings in the 16 games, good for a 2.19 ERA.

The bullpen — after Michael Grove’s scoreless eighth inning and Daniel Hudson’s scoreless ninth — has allowed five earned runs over 50⅔ innings during the stretch, good for an 0.89 ERA. And that’s despite losing closer Evan Phillips and setup men Joe Kelly and Ryan Brasier to injuries during the stretch.

“We’ve played some great baseball at times over the years, but this [stretch], from all facets of the game, is as good as I’ve seen,” Roberts said. “It’s hard to beat what we’ve done.”

The Dodgers didn’t pound the ball on Wednesday, mustering six hits against hard-throwing Marlins left-hander Ryan Weathers and two relievers in the 1-hour, 55-minute matinee, the shortest Dodgers game since 2003. But when you pitch as well as they did — the Dodgers did not walk a batter — you don’t have to.

“I think you win with pitching and defense, like everyone says, and our offense is the best in the league,” Rojas said. “The starters have been doing their part, and the bullpen has been amazing. Everything is clicking right now for us, and we have to kind of continue to ride the wave.”

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Freddie Freeman reached on a two-out, broken-bat single to right-center field, took second on a balk, third on a wild pitch and scored on Hernández’s RBI single to right.

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The Marlins tied the score in the fourth when Bryan De La Cruz lined an 88-mph changeup from Stone, one of the right-hander’s few mistakes, into the left-field bullpen for a leadoff homer.

Jake Burger and Josh Bell followed with singles, but Stone escaped the two-on, no-outs jam by snagging Sanchez’s hard one-hopper to his left and firing to shortstop Mookie Betts to start a double play and striking out Nick Gordon with a 96-mph fastball.

“I didn’t know I had it, first off — it kind of surprised me that it was in my glove,” Stone said of the double-play ball. “But Mookie is a super athlete, so if I just throw it anywhere around the bag, he’s probably going to turn it.”

Stone, leaning heavily on a fastball that averaged 94.2 mph and an 86.5-mph changeup, blanked the Marlins on two hits over his final three innings. He is 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA on the season and 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last five starts in which he’s given up seven earned runs and 22 hits, struck out 16 and walked nine in 30 innings.

“He’s been very consistent with his command, his conviction, his confidence, and as a result, he’s gone deeper into games,” Roberts said. “He looks like a seasoned major league pitcher. He has that boyish face, but the demeanor on the mound, he’s a bulldog out there.”

Stone, 25, struggled in four big-league stints in 2023, going 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA, but he has found his footing — and a dash of swagger — with an extended run in the rotation to start 2024.

“Yeah, I would probably say confidence and conviction in all of my pitches,” Stone said, when asked about the difference between 2023 and 2024. “I feel like that’s a key for not only me, but for every pitcher. If you pitch with conviction, more likely than not, good things will happen.”

Read more: Hernández: Walker Buehler’s return was encouraging. Can he can build on it?

Hernández put Stone in line for the win in the sixth when he followed another Freeman two-out hit, this one a double into the right-field corner, with a towering two-run homer to left-center field on a full-count changeup for a 3-1 lead.

“I was thinking changeup, yeah,” Hernández said of his battle against Weathers. “He got me out in my second at-bat with a changeup, he threw me a changeup on a 3-and-1 count, and I knew he was going back to that.”

The Dodgers signed Hernández to a one-year, $23.5-million deal last winter in hopes that the 31-year-old slugger would add power and length to a lineup headed by Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Freeman and Will Smith. Hernández is batting .265 with an .843 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 10 homers and a team-leading 29 RBIs.

“He’s exceeded all of my expectations,” Roberts said. “In that situation, they were trying to pitch around him and to be careful, he got to 3-2 and [Weathers] left that changeup just a little bit up and he put a good swing on it. Give him a lot of credit. But he likes being in that spot. He’s not afraid to drive in a run.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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