Kenta Maeda pitched five innings in which he allowed three earned runs on seven hits and two walks as the Dodgers beat the Cardinals 7-3. Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched four shutout innings in his first Major League relief appearance, holding the Cardinals to two hits. Maeda helped his own cause in the fourth inning with a two-run single that gave the Dodgers the lead.
Maeda’s first start of the DL looked at first like a disaster. Cardinal’s lead off man, Dexter Fowler, started the game with a single, then Tommy Pham walked, putting runners on first and second with no outs. After a strikeout, Jedd Gyorko hit a curveball down the left field line. The ball rolled to the corner before Cody Bellinger picked it up. Fowler scored easily and Pham scored too, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. After a wild pitch, Yadier Molina hit a little flare to right-center field that dropped in for a hit. Gyorko scored and before the seats were warm, the Cardinals had a 3-0 lead.
The Dodgers were unable to score in the first inning, but Chase Utley changed that in the second inning. He led off the frame and with one ball and two strikes, Cardinals’ starter Michael Wacha threw a changeup. The veteran hitter, however, was not fooled and Utley hit a high fly ball to right field. The ball just barely went over the wall, but the distance does not matter if it goes over the wall. Utley sprinted around the bases as normal and the Dodgers were on the scoreboard 3-1.
In the fourth inning, the Dodgers put runners on first and third with two outs with Yasiel Puig at the plate. In a 1-2 count, Wacha threw Puig a cutter down and over the plate. Puig stayed back on it and drove the ball to right field. Bellinger scored and Kiké Hernández moved over to third. Dave Roberts decided to let Maeda bat, a decision which he did not regret. During Maeda’s at bat, Puig stole second base, putting runners on second and third. Maeda got a 1-2 curveball over the plate and pulled it down the left-field line. Both runners scored giving the Dodgers a 4-3 lead and Maeda was tagged out trying for a double.
Chris Taylor led off the fifth inning with a single, then Corey Seager walked against Brett Cecil. Cecil then threw a wild pitch that allowed the runners to advance to second and third. Cecil’s bad luck continued as he threw another pitch in the dirt that bounced off Molina. The ball rolled away and Taylor scored easily extending the Dodgers’ lead to 5-3. After Cecil recorded an out, he threw Adrián González a cutter low and away. A-Gon drove the ball the other way down the left-field line. Seager scored and the ball got by Pham, allowing González to take second and the Dodgers to take a 6-3 lead.
In the sixth, Kiké Hernández led off with a double, then Miguel Socolovich struck out the next two batters he faced. Taylor then came to the plate and continued his hot hitting. The first pitch Socolovich threw was a fastball over the heart of the plate. Taylor lined the ball into the right-center field gap. It bounced to the wall and Hernánez scored easily, extending the Dodgers lead to 7-3 on Taylor’s RBI double.
In the sixth inning, Hyun-Jin Ryu entered the game in relief of Maeda. Yes, you read that correctly. Ryu has been struggling as a starter this year and the Dodgers have way too many of them. They sent Ryu to the bullpen to make room in the rotation and to hopefully get him back on track.
In the sixth inning, Ryu allowed single but used three groundouts to get out of the inning. In the seventh, he allowed a single but used a strikeout and two groundouts to get out of the frame unharmed. Ryu then sent the Cardinals down in order in the eighth inning, striking out Aledmys Diaz. Ryu then struck out in the bottom of the inning. In the ninth, Ryu walked the leadoff man so Kenley Jansen began to warm up in the bullpen. Ryu then induced a forceout before getting Fowler to ground into a game-ending double-play.
Keys To The Game:
Letting Him Bat:
In the fourth inning, Dave Roberts had Logan Forsythe go out onto the on-deck circle for Kenta Maeda. It looked like Maeda’s night was done, but after Yasiel Puig made it a 3-2 game with an RBI single, Roberts decided to let Maeda bat. The decision paid off when after Puig stole second base, Maeda hit a single that drove in two runs and gave the Dodgers the lead. It looks like Maeda may have earned some more at-bats.
Chris Taylor made his case to at least be on the All-Star ballot with a great night on Thursday. Taylor went 3-4 with an RBI and one run scored. His batting average is now .344, and his on-base percentage is .445. Taylor also continued to frustrate Dexter Fowler, who was robbed of another extra-base hit by Taylor. Taylor was making the second starts of his career in center field, his first coming on Wednesday night. In the seventh inning, Taylor made a diving catch that Statcast rated four starts. He had to cover 60 feet in just 3.9 seconds with a catch probability of 44%.
The Cardinals will leave Los Angeles and the reigning World Series Champions, the Chicago Cubs, will come to Chavez Ravin. Alex Wood will start for the Dodgers and Jake Arrieta will take the mound for the Cubs. Arrieta threw his first career no-hitter at Dodger Stadium in 2015, but he allowed one run over six innnings in his last start in LA. Alex Wood has a record of 1-2 against Chicago with an ERA of 3.57, but he is not the same player he was last year. The game will start at 7:10 pm PT and be televsied on SportsNet LA and MLB Network.