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Yoshinobu Yamamoto shines and Dodgers’ offense shows some life in win over Rockies

June 2nd, 2024

A steady stream of hits and walks and quality at-bats did not translate into a massive amount of runs for the Dodgers on Saturday night, but when combined with a strong Yoshinobu Yamamoto start and some stout relief, it was enough for a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies in front of 50,182 at Dodger Stadium.

A struggling Dodgers offense racked up 11 hits, including three by Andy Pages and two each by Freddie Freeman and Teoscar Hernández, and four walks but was unable to build more than a three-run cushion.

Thanks to Yamamoto and relievers Daniel Hudson, Blake Treinen and Evan Phillips, the Dodgers didn’t have to. Yamamoto navigated through heavy traffic to complete six innings, giving up one run and seven hits, striking out seven and walking one to improve to 6-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 12 starts.

Read more: Dodgers befuddled by Colorado pitching as winning streak ends

“The starting pitchers are dealing right now, keeping us in the game, giving us the opportunity to score runs so we can get back in the game and win,” Hernández said. “We’re not going to put 10 runs on the board every day, but we try to maximize every single thing to make our lead bigger.”

Yamamoto gave up his only run after a minor wardrobe malfunction — a broken shoelace that he returned to the dugout to replace — caused a delay before the start of the second inning. Brendan Rodgers led off with a double, took third on Elehuris Montero’s groundout to second and scored on Brenton Doyle’s sacrifice fly to right field.

Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto yells out as he throws a pitch in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies.Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto yells out as he throws a pitch in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies.

Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto yells out as he throws a pitch in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

But that was all the Rockies would muster against Yamamoto, who stranded two runners in each of the first, third and sixth innings and, with his season-high 101st pitch of the night, got Montero to ground out to shortstop with runners on second and third to end the sixth, preserving a 4-1 lead.

Hudson retired the side in order in the seventh, Treinen gave up two hits in a scoreless eighth and Phillips, making his first appearance since May 3 after missing four weeks because of a right-hamstring strain, retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.

The Dodgers scored twice in the second for a 2-1 lead, the first run coming when the Rockies committed two errors on the same play and the second on Pages two-out single and Jason Heyward’s RBI double to right-center.

Pages singled with two outs in the fourth, Heyward walked, and Kiké Hernández hit an RBI single to left-center for a 3-1 lead. Freeman tripled into the left-field corner and scored on Will Smith’s RBI double to left for a 4-1 lead in the fifth.

“Up and down the lineup, we saw good productive at-bats,” Roberts said. “It seemed like we took better at-bats with two strikes, used the big part of the field, had [Rockies starter Cal] Quantrill on the ropes and got into their bullpen, which was good to see.”

The Dodgers were an offensive force for seven weeks, batting .263 with a .792 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and averaging 5.4 runs through May 14, a stretch in which they went 29-15. But in their next 15 games through Friday night, they hit .230 with a .672 OPS and averaged 3.5 runs, going 7-8 in that span.

Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Freeman and Smith have manned the first four spots in the lineup all season, but with the team in an extended funk, manager Dave Roberts said he was considering tinkering with the alignment.

“I’ve thought about potentially splitting up the two lefties,” Roberts said before the game, alluding to Ohtani and Freeman. “Not against right-handed [starters], but maybe against lefties.”

If Roberts flip-flopped Freeman and Smith, the Dodgers would go right-left-right-left-right in the first five spots, with Teoscar Hernández batting fifth. That would give them a more balanced lineup in general and leave the top of the order less vulnerable to shut-down left-handed relievers in the later innings.

Colorado Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar tags out Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani during the third inning Saturday.Colorado Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar tags out Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani during the third inning Saturday.

Roberts said he won’t make that switch against Austin Gomber on Sunday because the Rockies left-hander is “a neutral guy,” meaning he is equally effective against right-handed and left-handed hitters.

“But against a lefty who has more [extreme] splits, I might think about it,” Roberts said. “If I do, I would certainly have Freddie be part of that conversation.”

If Ohtani was crushing the ball the way he did for the first six weeks, Roberts might not even be considering that conversation, but the slugger is batting .204 (11 for 54) with a .627 OPS, two homers and eight RBIs in his last 14 games.

Ohtani went one for three with a single, a walk, a strikeout and a stolen base Saturday night, but he cost the Dodgers a run when he was picked off second base before Freeman’s single in the third inning.

Ohtani was hitting .364 with a 1.108 OPS on May 15. He is now batting .326 with a .999 OPS. Not coincidentally, Ohtani suffered a right-hamstring bruise when he was hit by a pickoff throw from Reds left-hander Brent Suter on May 16.

Read more: Analysis: ‘We need them.’ Why it’s crucial for Dodgers to find ‘spark’ from bottom half of lineup

“His words, he doesn’t feel it when he’s swinging the bat,” Roberts said. “But he’s a finely tuned machine, and sometimes, in the context of a sports car, when it’s not firing on all cylinders, it just doesn’t run right.

“When his back was bothering him a little bit [in early May] you saw some funkier swings, a little bit more chase. His hamstring is bothering him a little bit, you see a little bit of the same thing. But I think that he’s getting close to where he needs to be physically. I think that staying to the big part of the field is a remedy.”

Rehab report

Clayton Kershaw’s fastball touched 88 mph during a 20-pitch simulated inning in which he faced three batters Saturday, a workout the veteran left-hander, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, likened to “basically the first step of spring training.”

Kershaw will throw a two-inning simulated game with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga later this week while the Dodgers are on the road. If he follows a normal six-week spring training progression without setback, he could return in mid-July.

“Right now, we’re way ahead of schedule, which is really encouraging,” Roberts said. “He came out of it feeling good, feeling strong. There was no tentativeness. I didn’t see him guarding anything. He felt free and easy.”

Bobby Miller, out since April 13 because of shoulder inflammation, gave up four earned runs and five hits in 3 ⅓ innings with no strikeouts and one walk in his second rehabilitation start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga at Lake Elsinore on Saturday.

The right-hander threw 65 pitches, 38 for strikes. He will make at least one more rehab start for triple-A Oklahoma City before being considered for the Dodgers’ rotation.

“Early on, I heard that the velocity was down,” Roberts said, “a couple miles per hour lower than what is typical for Bobby.”

Was the dip caused by a physical setback?

“No, because I would have heard that,” Roberts said. “So it’s nothing too concerning.”

Miller was scheduled to make at least one more rehab start for triple-A Oklahoma City before being considered for the Dodgers rotation, but Roberts said his rehab stint could be extended.

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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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